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Facoltā di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Universitā degli Studi di Milano
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Agro-environmental analysis and modelling
Code: G5707-
Teacher:  Luca Bechini
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 4
Practices in classroom: 2
Basic aims:  Construction and operation of simulation models of cropping systems regarding both environmental and productive aspects.
Difference between empirical and mechanistic models; meaning of the simplification procedures introduced in all the models discussed.
Evaluation of simulation models.
Acquired skills:  Description and application of models for the simulation of agricultural crops potential production, of water balance and of nitrogen and carbon budget in soil-crop system. The student must know how to apply the models on already proposed problems and how to solve new ones.
Creation of simple models using a spreadsheet.
Ability to consider the effect of agricultural practices in the simulations and to understand their interaction with pedo-climate.
Calibrate and validate simulation models.
Course contents:  Utility of modelling. Dynamic systems analysis. Simulation of crop growth (light interception, gross and net photosynthesis, respiration) and development. Simulation of water, carbon and nitrogen dynamics in the soil-crop system. Integration of all processes, to represent the entire cropping system. Evaluation of simulation models.
Program:  1. Introduction: utility of models; systems theory; models classification; examples of models used in agriculture.

2. Simulation of crop development (thermal time, photoperiod, vernalization).

3. Simulation of crop growth (light interception, gross and net photosynthesis, respiration).

4. Simulation of soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics.

5. Integration of the simulation of all processes, to represent the entire cropping system (rotations, regional-scale evaluations), using a cropping systems simulation model.

6. Calibration and evaluation of simulation models.
Prerequisites:  Physics; Mathematics; Agrometeorology; Herbaceous crops; Soil physics and chemistry; Computer Science. Please revise the above disciplines, as they are treated in the previous 3-year course (Laurea Triennale).
Preparatory instructions:  None of those included in the 2-year course (Laurea Magistrale).
Learning materials:  a) Donatelli, M., 1995. Sistemi nella gestione integrata delle colture, Note dalle lezioni di G.Campbell e C. Stockle, available at: http://www.sipeaa.it/mdon/references/books/books_online.htm b) Loomis, R.S., Connor, D.J., 1992. Crop ecology: productivity and management in agricultural systems. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 538; c) Ceccon, P., Borin, M., 1995. Elementi di agrometeorologia e agroclimatologia. Imprimitur, Padova, pp. 450; d) Lecture notes; e) ARIEL Web site; f) papers provided by the teacher. Other books: g) Campbell, G.S., 1985. Soil physics with Basic. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 150. h) Campbell, G.S., Norman, J.M., 1998. An introduction to environmental biophysics, Springer, New York, 286 pp.
Other info:  The written and oral (optional) examination will deal with all the topics of the program and will also include small practical exercises.

How to study: a) participate to the lectures and the practicals; b) study your lecture notes, the slides, the papers and the books; c) revise the exercises done during the practicals; d) use the models in other conditions than those proposed during the practicals.

Evaluation of the examination: the student should know the topics of the program and should be able to critically understand modelling issues.
Program of Agro-environmental analysis and modelling (pdf version)
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