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Simulation of nitrogen in agro-ecosystems: Criteria for model selection and use

Simulación de nitrógeno en agro-ecosistemas: Criterios para selección y uso del modelo


Available simulation models for describing nitrogen behavior in agro-ecosystems vary in two characteristics:(i) conceptual completeness in terms of the number of processes considered, and(ii) thelevel of detail at which each process is modeled. These model characteristics are determined by both the objectives that the model is designed to meet and the current state-of-the-art understanding of the various processes included in the model. The levels of conceptual completeness and detail in a model govern the potential applications for which the model may be used. Applications of models may be research-oriented, management-oriented, or planning-oriented. A model suitable for a given application should have an appropriate level of completeness and detail to accomplish the stated objective.

Criteria to aid in the selection and evaluation of nitrogen simulation models for a particular application include: i) the availability of computational facilities, ii) the spatial and temporal scales of application, iii) the intended use of the simulations, iv) the availability of model input data, and v) the confidence regions associated with the model output.


Los modelos de simulación del comportamiento en agro-ecosistemas difieren en dos características: (i)entereza o minuciosidad conceptual, en términos del número de procesos que considera, y (ii)el nivel de detalle en el cual cada proceso es modelado. Estas características del modelo son determinadas por los objetivos para los cuales el modelo es diseñado y por el grado acutal del conocimiento de los procesos incluídos en el modelo. Los niveles de entereza conceptual y de detalle en un modelo determinan las aplicaciones potenciales para las cuales dicho modelo puede ser utilizado. Las aplicationes pueden ser orientadas a la investigación, manejo o planificación. Un modelo adecuado para una aplicación determinada debería tener un nivel apropiado de entereza y detalle para lograr el objetivo establecido.

Los criterios de ayuda en la selección y evaluación de los modelos de simulación del nitrógeno para una aplicación particular incluyen: (i) la disponibilidad de facilidades computacionales, (ii) las escalas espacial y temporal de aplicación, (iii) el uso deseado de las simulaciones, (iv) la disponibilidad de datos de entrada al modelo, y (v) los ámbitos de confianza asociadas con las salidas del modelo.

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Rao, P.S.C., Jessup, R.E. & Hornsby, A.G. Simulation of nitrogen in agro-ecosystems: Criteria for model selection and use. Plant Soil 67, 35–43 (1982).

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Key words

  • Agro-ecosystems
  • Mathematical models
  • N-cycling
  • Simulation modeling