Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 29-45

First online:

Mechanistic Virtual Modeling: Coupling a Plant Simulation Model with a Three-dimensional Plant Architecture Component

  • Eric JallasAffiliated withCIRADITK Email author 
  • , Ron SequeiraAffiliated withUSDA–APHIS–CPHST
  • , Pierre MartinAffiliated withCIRAD
  • , Sam TurnerAffiliated with
  • , Petraq PapajorgjiAffiliated withIFAS, Information Technologies Office, University of Florida

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The aim of this research is to integrate plant architectural modeling or “visualization modeling” and “mechanistic” or physiologically based modeling to describe how a real plant functions using a virtual crop. Virtual crops are life-like computer representations of crops based on individual plants and including the representation of the substrate on which the plants grow. The integration of a three-dimensional expression and the mechanistic model of plant development and growth requires the knowledge of the position of the organs along the different plant axes (the topology), their sizes, their forms, and their spatial orientation. The plant simulation model simulates the topology and organ weight or length. The superposition of spatial position and the topology produces the architecture of the plant. The association between sizes and organs creates what we refer to as the plant morphological model. Both components, the architectural model and the morphology model, are detailed in this paper. Once the integration is complete, the system produces a movie-like animation that shows the plant growing. The integrated model may simulate one or several plants growing simultaneously (in parallel). Visual capabilities make the proposed system very unique as it allows users to judge the results of the simulation the same way a farmer judges the situation of the crops in real life, by visually observing the field.


Crop modeling Virtual simulation Cotton Virtual plant