JORD210 Dynamic Modelling in the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere System

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Attila Nemes

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Limits of class size:15

Course frequency:Annual

Nominal workload:250 hours.

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in Autumn parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Autumn parallel. NB! The course will not be given in the Autumn of 2023.

About this course

The course will introduce key concepts underlying process modeling in the soil-plant-atmosphere system through object-oriented programming in Vensim and the use of the FAO Aquacrop simulation model. Aquacrop will be used to demonstrate the importance and knowhow of model parameterization, model calibration and validation and parameter sensitivity analysis. The students will use case study exercises and develop model scenarios (e.g. climate change, irrigation scheduling, soil tillage effects, etc.) and learn to interpret model results and their inherent uncertainties. In the second half of the course students will be introduced to a greater pool of numerical simulation models in order to understand how different model types include different additional components and address various other types of processes at different spatial and temporal scales (e.g. biogeochemical processes, soil erosion events, catchment scale water (re-)distribution, global-scale land-surface interactions, etc.). The course is designed to equip environmental science students with stronger computational background and strengthen the environmental science background of students in science and technology studies.

Learning outcome

At the end of the course the student will have obtained the following knowledge and skills:


The students will be able to recognize diagnostic soil layers (horizons), use them in various soil classification systems and explain the most prominent soil characteristics, based on the classifications’ nomenclature. They understand the basis for (simple) geostatistical techniques and dynamic modeling


Students will be able to integrate the three different tools listed below to analyze the effect of human intervention at the landscape level, important for sustainable use and management of ecosystems

1. Soil classification

a. Classify soil profiles according to international soil classification systems,

b. Find and interpret important soil properties and characteristics from classification nomenclature

2. Spatial variation and GIS

a. Apply/ handle soil data using key geographic information system (GIS) functions (store, manipulate, analyze, and display spatial data)

b. Develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills necessary to use GIS in the characterization and management of soils

c. Perform some basic geostatistics (regression-kriging, semi-variograms, continuous and class variables)

3. Process modelling

a. Formulate, solve, apply and present simple models for major processes in soils and whole ecosystems.

b. Use process modelling to determine quantitative causal connections in soil, (water and plant) systems

c. Implement, interpret, and present model sensitivity and scenario analyses.

  • Lectures and exercises (computer lab). 4h each week
  • 1. Introductory lectures

    2. hand outs and exercises

    3. PCs (computer lab) and supervision during class hours by the teachers

    In addition to the regular meeting hours, staff will be available for advice during office hours.

  • JORD100.
  • One assignment.

    Grading scale: Pass / Not passed.

  • The external examinator evaluates the final (3rd) assignment.
  • The first two of in total three assignments have to receive "pass" before submission of the final (3rd) assignment.
  • The course will not be given in the autumn of 2023.
  • Lectures and exercises will take place in the computer lab. 4 hours each week.
  • Students that have exams in JORD201 Process Modelling in Soil Water and Plant Systems and JORD251, Soil Classification will get at reduction in ECTS credits of five and two respectively
  • Special requirements in Science