Simulation of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arable soils: a comparison of approaches

B Gabrielle, B Mary, R Roche, P Smith, G Gosse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although mechanistic soil-crop models are increasingly accepted as valuable tools in analysing agronomical or environmental issues, potential users are faced with an equally increasing number of available models. In principle, model selection should be based on a rational assessment of its merit with respect to the objectives pursued. Such information may be obtained by comparing the ability of candidate models to predict given sets of experimental data. However, because the basic components of soil-crop models interact strongly in producing model outputs, little can be drawn as to the validity of the approaches used for the individual components. Here, we focused on the soil carbon and nitrogen turnover module of four soil-crop models (CERES, NCSOIL, SUNDIAL, and STICS), which were selected based on their representativity of currently used models, and the range of complexity and process approaches they offered. The C-N modules of models other than CERES were extracted and linked within CERES, so that they were all supplied with the same physical and chemical data. Inputs and outputs other than those involved the N cycle were provided with good reliability by the common CERES shell. The performance of the various modules was assessed according to two criteria: short-term response of topsoil inorganic N to climate and crop residues input, and long-term dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM). Accordingly, data sets involving net mineralization and topsoil inorganic N dynamics under contrasting bare or wheat-cropped soils, and long-term soil carbon data were used to test them. The results highlight a trade-off between the prediction of N mineralization in the short-term (day to year) and SOM dynamics in the long-term (year to decade). On a yearly basis, NCSOIL over-estimated immobilization of inorganic N associated with the decomposition of crop residues, and CERES predicted extremely low mineralization fluxes. STICS and SUNDIAL gave good predictions of soil N supply, but over-estimated the rate at which soil carbon from slow-turnover pools was degraded as a result. Comparison with a model dedicated to predicting SOM turnover (RothC) showed that the discrepancy may be attributed to a strong under-estimation of the turnover of below-ground plant material by the plant modules of CERES. Crop models should thus be improved from this point of view before coupling with SOM models. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Volume18
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • soil organic matter
  • nitrogen balance
  • model comparison
  • CERES
  • LONG-TERM EXPERIMENTS
  • CROP MANAGEMENT
  • WINTER-WHEAT
  • MODELS
  • WATER
  • TRANSFORMATIONS
  • MINERALIZATION
  • DECOMPOSITION
  • FERTILIZER
  • RESIDUES

Cite this

Simulation of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arable soils: a comparison of approaches. / Gabrielle, B ; Mary, B ; Roche, R ; Smith, P ; Gosse, G .

In: European Journal of Agronomy, Vol. 18, 2002, p. 107-120.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gabrielle, B ; Mary, B ; Roche, R ; Smith, P ; Gosse, G . / Simulation of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arable soils: a comparison of approaches. In: European Journal of Agronomy. 2002 ; Vol. 18. pp. 107-120.
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T1 - Simulation of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in arable soils: a comparison of approaches

AU - Gabrielle, B

AU - Mary, B

AU - Roche, R

AU - Smith, P

AU - Gosse, G

PY - 2002

Y1 - 2002

N2 - Although mechanistic soil-crop models are increasingly accepted as valuable tools in analysing agronomical or environmental issues, potential users are faced with an equally increasing number of available models. In principle, model selection should be based on a rational assessment of its merit with respect to the objectives pursued. Such information may be obtained by comparing the ability of candidate models to predict given sets of experimental data. However, because the basic components of soil-crop models interact strongly in producing model outputs, little can be drawn as to the validity of the approaches used for the individual components. Here, we focused on the soil carbon and nitrogen turnover module of four soil-crop models (CERES, NCSOIL, SUNDIAL, and STICS), which were selected based on their representativity of currently used models, and the range of complexity and process approaches they offered. The C-N modules of models other than CERES were extracted and linked within CERES, so that they were all supplied with the same physical and chemical data. Inputs and outputs other than those involved the N cycle were provided with good reliability by the common CERES shell. The performance of the various modules was assessed according to two criteria: short-term response of topsoil inorganic N to climate and crop residues input, and long-term dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM). Accordingly, data sets involving net mineralization and topsoil inorganic N dynamics under contrasting bare or wheat-cropped soils, and long-term soil carbon data were used to test them. The results highlight a trade-off between the prediction of N mineralization in the short-term (day to year) and SOM dynamics in the long-term (year to decade). On a yearly basis, NCSOIL over-estimated immobilization of inorganic N associated with the decomposition of crop residues, and CERES predicted extremely low mineralization fluxes. STICS and SUNDIAL gave good predictions of soil N supply, but over-estimated the rate at which soil carbon from slow-turnover pools was degraded as a result. Comparison with a model dedicated to predicting SOM turnover (RothC) showed that the discrepancy may be attributed to a strong under-estimation of the turnover of below-ground plant material by the plant modules of CERES. Crop models should thus be improved from this point of view before coupling with SOM models. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

AB - Although mechanistic soil-crop models are increasingly accepted as valuable tools in analysing agronomical or environmental issues, potential users are faced with an equally increasing number of available models. In principle, model selection should be based on a rational assessment of its merit with respect to the objectives pursued. Such information may be obtained by comparing the ability of candidate models to predict given sets of experimental data. However, because the basic components of soil-crop models interact strongly in producing model outputs, little can be drawn as to the validity of the approaches used for the individual components. Here, we focused on the soil carbon and nitrogen turnover module of four soil-crop models (CERES, NCSOIL, SUNDIAL, and STICS), which were selected based on their representativity of currently used models, and the range of complexity and process approaches they offered. The C-N modules of models other than CERES were extracted and linked within CERES, so that they were all supplied with the same physical and chemical data. Inputs and outputs other than those involved the N cycle were provided with good reliability by the common CERES shell. The performance of the various modules was assessed according to two criteria: short-term response of topsoil inorganic N to climate and crop residues input, and long-term dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM). Accordingly, data sets involving net mineralization and topsoil inorganic N dynamics under contrasting bare or wheat-cropped soils, and long-term soil carbon data were used to test them. The results highlight a trade-off between the prediction of N mineralization in the short-term (day to year) and SOM dynamics in the long-term (year to decade). On a yearly basis, NCSOIL over-estimated immobilization of inorganic N associated with the decomposition of crop residues, and CERES predicted extremely low mineralization fluxes. STICS and SUNDIAL gave good predictions of soil N supply, but over-estimated the rate at which soil carbon from slow-turnover pools was degraded as a result. Comparison with a model dedicated to predicting SOM turnover (RothC) showed that the discrepancy may be attributed to a strong under-estimation of the turnover of below-ground plant material by the plant modules of CERES. Crop models should thus be improved from this point of view before coupling with SOM models. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

KW - soil organic matter

KW - nitrogen balance

KW - model comparison

KW - CERES

KW - LONG-TERM EXPERIMENTS

KW - CROP MANAGEMENT

KW - WINTER-WHEAT

KW - MODELS

KW - WATER

KW - TRANSFORMATIONS

KW - MINERALIZATION

KW - DECOMPOSITION

KW - FERTILIZER

KW - RESIDUES

M3 - Article

VL - 18

SP - 107

EP - 120

JO - European Journal of Agronomy

JF - European Journal of Agronomy

SN - 1161-0301

ER -