Model Fashions

I reluctantly made my way to the modelling poster presentations. There’s a grimy romanticism to agriculture in the tropics and subtropics, it’s hot, sweaty and dirty. Even measuring the leaf area index with a Plant Canopy Analyzer requires patience in sweltering heat. Modeling conjures a different image, endless hours staring at a screen tinkering with a tangled web of components.

This is only half the story, it also requires intensive field work too. Models can only be created and calibrated based on real data. Above all, modeling is part of the future of agriculture. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to show the advantages of intercropped systems, or the diffuse impacts of global warming.

Unfortunately, the poster session just made a complicated subject more obscure. The noise drowned out most of the presenters along with the questions. Regardless, I got enough of an impression to make a list of my favorites. I made sure my choices made sense by pulling aside a modeler from the audience.

Best Poster


Thanh Thi Nguyen: Assessing Impacts of Long-Term Maize-Cultivation Using the ‘Dynamic of Total Carbon and Nitrogen Distribution’ Model

The presented study evaluated the development of soil fertility under mono-cropped maize cultivation in Northwest Vietnam to help with natural resource management at watershed level. The poster was simple and logical, avoiding any clutter or confusing graphics. The subject matter was complex, but the presentation clear.

Most ‘Interesting’ Concept

Eeusha Nafi: A Multi-Model Ensemble Approach to Assess the Effects of Alternative Management Practices on Soil Properties and Crop Yield

This was a study which compared possible technical approaches to evaluate the effect of soil and crop management options on soil degradation. I had to rely on outside expertise for this one. Apparently, this was innovative by its attempt to combine three different modeling systems, SIMPLACE, EPIC, and DSSAT to determine the impact of tillage and crop residue management on soil quality and crop yield.

Best Presentation


Thomas Hilger: Agro-Forestry: A Sustainable Cropping Option for Uplands in Western Thailand.

Using WANULCAS, the study tested various maize based soil conservation practices, like alley cropping to see their sustainability, impact on yield and efficacy against soil degradation. Short, simple, and sweet. Mr. Hilger was energetic and direct. He made sure to clearly guide the audience through the poster with his hand as he talked his way around the poster.


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