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ISMC News 13 April 2023

Announcements + Featured Paper + Featured Soil Modeller
Nomination for ISMC awards now open
Nomination for the Rien van Genuchten Award for advanced modeling of soil processes, the ISMC Early Career Award and the ISMC publication award 2024 is now open. Nominations are directed to the ISMC coordination office for registration until 01th October 2023.
Soil moisture measurement survey
The objective of this survey is to define the methodologies and approaches needed for different soil moisture measurements by end-user communities. This includes parameter range, required uncertainties and available measurements, data processing and documentary standards as well as a review of available methods. 
The questions are structured in the following themes: general, point scale, intermediate scale, remote sensing from satellite and data fusion. You can skip a non-mandatory question if you don't have any answer. Go to the survey here
Wolf Prize 2023 awarded to Rien van Genuchten
Dr. Rien van Genuchten, received the 2023 Wolf Prize in Agriculture. Rien is being honored for his transformative contributions to the fields of soil physics and vadose zone hydrology over the course of his 40-year career.
Vadose Zone Journal has introduced a special section to honor Dr. Rien van Genuchten, recipient of the 2023 Wolf Prize in Agriculture.
This special section targets articles from authors that either collaborated with Dr. van Genuchten or built their research program based on Rien’s many contributions to the fields of soil physics and vadose zone hydrology, and whose manuscripts would thus be a tribute to his work. Topics can therefore include research on soil hydraulic properties; the use of analytical and numerical models to address various environmental issues involving the equilibrium and nonequilibrium movement of water, heat, and solutes; the use of pedotransfer functions; research on root water and solute uptake; and the effects of salinity on soil hydraulic properties and root uptake. 
Guest Editors: Jirka Šimunek, Binayak Mohanty, Jan W. Hopmans 
More information here
Save the date for the ISMC international conference in May 6th - 11th 2024 Beijing China
The 4th international ISMC conference will be held the first week of  (6th to 11th)  May 2024 at Tianjin University China in Beijing. More information about the program will follow.
New working group on teaching & dissemination seeks volunteers
We are delighted to inform you that the teaching & dissemination working group (TAWG) has been initiated at ISMC. This working group aims to improve the efficiency of the knowledge flow in soil modelling and related fields between research groups. Here is the description of WG. If you are an early career scientist who wants to take actions on TAWG  goals, please fill out this application form. Our effort is to build an inclusive and diverse team where idea
Vale Professor Emeritus Pieter Hendrik Groenevelt passed away 10th of February 2023
We report with sadness the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Pieter Groenevelt, in Guelph, Canada. Our sincere condolences to his family.
The full obituary can be found here
Featured Paper
Do you want your paper featured?
Please share your recent paper if you want to be featured in the ISMC newsletter. With your contributions, we will select one paper to be featured in every newsletter. Below is the link to google form
Linking rhizosphere processes across scales: Opinion
Simultaneously interacting rhizosphere processes determine emergent plant behaviour, including growth, transpiration, nutrient uptake, soil carbon storage and transformation by microorganisms. However, these processes occur on multiple scales, challenging modelling of rhizosphere and plant behaviour. Current advances in modelling and experimental methods open the path to unravel the importance and interconnectedness of those processes across scales.
We present a series of case studies of state-of-the art simulations addressing this multi-scale, multi-process problem from a modelling point of view, as well as from the point of view of integrating newly available rhizosphere data and images.
Each case study includes a model that links scales and experimental data to explain and predict spatial and temporal distribution of rhizosphere components. We exemplify the state-of-the-art modelling tools in this field: image-based modelling, pore-scale modelling, continuum scale modelling, and functional-structural plant modelling. We show how to link the pore scale to the continuum scale by homogenisation or by deriving effective physical parameters like viscosity from nano-scale chemical properties. Furthermore, we demonstrate ways of modelling the links between rhizodeposition and plant nutrient uptake or soil microbial activity.
Modelling allows to integrate new experimental data across different rhizosphere processes and scales and to explore more variables than is possible with experiments. Described models are tools to test hypotheses and consequently improve our mechanistic understanding of how rhizosphere processes impact plant-scale behaviour. Linking multiple scales and processes including the dynamics of root growth is the logical next step for future research.
Featured Soil Modeller
Andrea Schnepf
Multiscale modeling of soil-plant interactions
Andrea Schnepf is a W2 Professor, jointly appointment between Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-3, and the University of Bonn, Faculty of Agriculture. She studied Landscape Planning with specialization in Soil Science and Modelling at BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, as well as Applied and Computational Mathematics at the University of Oxford. At BOKU, she did her PhD in Land and Water Management and Engineering and her habilitation in Soil Physics.
- Please tell us briefly about yourself and your research interest
My expertise is in developing and applying mathematical models in the field of soil-plant interactions, rhizosphere processes, and mycorrhizal associations. My group has developed functional structural root architecture models during the last 10+ years, and I am currently leading a benchmarking initiative for such models in the framework of the International Soil Modelling Consortium. I was also strongly involved in the development of an ecosystem model that integrates insights from soil organic matter models, structural models and food web models to simulate the living soil. I am also interesting in data-to-model pipelines, in particular in the context of plant roots, using different types of 2D and 3D image analysis tools.
-  How did you first become interested in soil modelling and learn about ISMC?
I am interested in soil modelling since I was a student at BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria, where I was introduced to soil physics and soil chemistry and related models such as Hydrus and MINEQL+. My first modelling task as PhD student was in the field of rhizosphere processes and phytoremediation. Together with Harry Vereecken and Jan Vanderborght, I had the pleasure to participate in ISMC right from the beginning. In 2016, I was in the organizing committee of the first ISMC conference in Austin, Texas.
-Can you share with us your current research focus? And, please tell us briefly how your research could contribute to ISMC Science Panel’s activities
My current research focusses on (further) developing functional-structural plant models, including the plant architecture, coupled water and carbon flow within the plant, water and nutrient uptake from the soil, rhizodeposition and rhizosphere processes. Our model is hosted on a GitHub repository ( as free and open-source software. I am interested in multiscale modelling, model parameterization and evaluation, and model application, e.g., for crop ideotyping and management optimization. I am leading a benchmark initiative for functional-structural root architecture models in the frame of an ISMC Soil Model Intercomparison.
-Please tell us how can ISMC help you advance in your career?
I think ISMC offers great opportunities to connect with other soil modellers. Currently, I participate in the Mathematics of Soil Processes Working Group of ISMC, which is co-chaired by Kathe Todd-Brown, Martine van der Ploeg and Yijian Zeng.
- What resources or skills would you recommend that early career members of ISMC should acquire? And how can ISMC help and support early career members in this regard?
I would recommend a skill-set balanced between process understanding, mathematics and programming. Furthermore, I would recommend good communication skills and to maintain a curiosity for what is going on in other fields of research.
By offering working groups, intercomparison activities, and by organising meetings and conferences, ISMC is fostering communication and links between its members, which I think is particularly helpful for early career scientists. New newly installed Teaching and Dissemination will be a great tool to support flow of knowledge between groups.
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