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ISMC News April 10 2024

Announcements + Featured Paper + Featured Soil Modeller


4th ISMC Conference

The abstract submission for the 4th ISMC Conference “Advances in Modeling Soil Systems, Earth System Science, and Beyond” from May 7-10, 2024 at Tianjin, China has been closed and many interesting abstract have been submitted. 
The registration is still open. 

Conference information and registration can be found here,

Short Course on DAISY modeling at University Bayreuth, Germany

The short course offers an introduction to the 1D/2D DAISY agro-ecological model ( It covers the main processes in DAISY:
• Water flow (matrix and biopore flow
• Solute transport (mineral N, DOC/DON, pesticides, particles, natural toxins, etc.)
• Heat transport
• Soil organic matter turnover
• Soil vegetation atmosphere transfer of water and energy
• Crop model, including a new dynamic litter (residues) layer on the soil surface
• Management practices (conservation vs conventional ag systems)
Registration and contact via email to:

This year, the Daisy course is being offered in Bayreuth*, Germany, where instructors from the University of Bayreuth and the University of Copenhagen will jointly offer a full-time program arranged in the second week of September. The course includes a series of short presentations, each followed by hands-on group exercises where participants learn how to use the Daisy agro-ecological simulation model and analyze a simple, pre-defined system. Specifically, you will learn how to prepare data for the model, run the model, and extract and analyze output from it. Students are encouraged to present their scientific topics and their plans for testing their hypotheses/research questions using DAISY.

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. Submission can be done here.

BODIUM—A systemic approach to model the dynamics of soil functions
The increasing demand for biomass for food, animal feed, fibre and bioenergy requires optimization of soil productivity, while at the same time, protecting other soil functions such as nutrient cycling and buffering, carbon storage, habitat for biological activity and water filter and storage. Therefore, one of the main challenges for sustainable agriculture is to produce high yields while maintaining all the other soil functions. Mechanistic simulation models are an essential tool to fully understand and predict the complex interactions between physical, biological and chemical processes of soils that generate those functions. We developed a soil model to simulate the impact of various agricultural management options and climate change on soil functions by integrating the relevant processes mechanistically and in a systemic way. As a special feature, we include the dynamics of soil structure induced by tillage and biological activity, which is especially relevant in arable soils. The model operates on a 1D soil profile consisting of a number of discrete layers with dynamic thickness. We demonstrate the model performance by simulating crop growth, root growth, nutrient and water uptake, nitrogen cycling, soil organic matter turnover, microbial activity, water distribution and soil structure dynamics in a long-term field experiment including different crops and different types and levels of fertilization. The model is able to capture essential features that are measured regularly including crop yield, soil organic carbon, and soil nitrogen. In this way, the plausibility of the implemented processes and their interactions is confirmed. Furthermore, we present the results of explorative simulations comparing scenarios with and without tillage events to analyse the effect of soil structure on soil functions. Since the model is process-based, we are confident that the model can also be used to predict quantities that have not been measured or to estimate the effect of management measures and climate states not yet been observed. The model thus has the potential to predict the site-specific impact of management decisions on soil functions, which is of great importance for the development of a sustainable agriculture that is currently also on the agenda of the ‘Green Deal’ at the European level.
More details can be found here


Featured Soil Modeller Sara König

Sara König is a modeller at the BonaRes Centre for Soil Research at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Halle (Saale), Germany. She studied Environmental System Science at the University of Osnabrück and specialized in microbial ecological modelling during her PhD at the UFZ in Leipzig, before she joined the Department of Soil System Science in Halle.
- Please tell us briefly about yourself and your research interest.
My general research interests focus on functional dynamics of ecosystems and the response to environmental changes. In the face of climate change and external forces, it is highly important to identify key processes that stabilize the ecosystem and their functions, and understand their interactions.
I am especially interested in finding trade-offs between describing complex systems behavior adequately, while keeping it simple enough to understand the system dynamics entirely.

-  How did you first become interested in soil modelling and learn about ISMC?
To understand and describe the extremely complex system of the soil ecosystem is like the holy grail for me as a system scientist, which is what attracted me to soil modelling. Besides these scientifically inspiring aspects of soil the high relevance for the environment and humankind makes soil the most interesting ecosystem for me to study. I learned about ISMC after joining the soil science community within my position in BonaRes.

-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 focuses on the development and improvement of the systemic soil model BODIUM, which aims at understanding and predicting soil functions under agricultural management and climate change. The model source code is freely available and build in a modular way, allowing other ISMC members to apply and extend our model easily. We further integrate python bindings to make coupling to other models easy to implement.

-Please tell us how can ISMC help you advance in your career?
I see ISMC is an important network of soil modelers from the different sub-disciplines, and I am hoping to connect to more colleagues in the future.

- 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?
Besides deepening the methodological skills (especially mathematics and coding), I would recommend to train explaining your research to empirical working colleagues. They are the ones investigating the processes, and if they understand your model, they can be really helpful co-workers in conceptual development. This also includes a thorough documentation of model structure and source code. For the latter, ISMC as a community of experts probably can help with some “best practice” advices.


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