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The Common Land Model (CLM) is one of the most widely used land surface models (LSMs) due to the practicality of its simple parameterization scheme and its versatility in embracing a variety of field datasets. The improved assessment of land surface water and energy fluxes using CLM can be an alternative approach for understanding the complex land-atmosphere interactions in data-limited regions. The understanding of water and energy cycles in a farmland is crucial because it is a dominant land feature in Korea and Asia. However, the applications of CLM to farmland in Korea are in paucity. The simulations of water and energy fluxes by CLM were conducted against those from the tower-based measurements during the growing season of 2006 at the Haenam site (a farmland site) in Korea without optimization. According to the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) land cover classification, a homogeneous cropland was selected initially for this study. Although the simulated soil moisture had a similar pattern to that of the observed, the former was relatively drier (at 0·1 m3 m-3) than the latter. The simulated net radiation showed good agreement with the observed, with a root mean squared error (RMSE) of 41 W m-2, whereas relatively large discrepancies between the simulation and observation were found in sensible (RMSE of 66 W m-2) and latent (RMSE of 60 W m-2) heat fluxes. On the basis of the sensitivity analysis, soil moisture was more receptive to land cover and soil texture parameterizations when compared to soil temperature and turbulent fluxes. Despite the uncertainty in the predictive capability of CLM employed without optimization, the initial performance of CLM suggests usefulness in a data-limited heterogeneous farmland in Korea. Further studies are required to identify the controls on water and energy fluxes with an improved parameterization. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.