Nutrient Uptake Estimates for Woody Species as Described by the NST 3.0, SSAND, and PCATS Mechanistic Nutrient Uptake Models

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Virginia Tech

With the advent of the personal computer, mechanistic nutrient uptake models have become widely used as research and teaching tools in plant and soil science. Three models NST 3.0, SSAND, and PCATS have evolved to represent the current state of the art. There are two major categories of mechanistic models, transient state models with numerical solutions and steady state models. NST 3.0 belongs to the former model type, while SSAND and PCATS belong to the latter. NST 3.0 has been used extensively in crop research but has not been used with woody species. Only a few studies using SSAND and PCATS are available. To better understand the similarities and differences of these three models, it would be useful to compare model predictions with experimental observations using multiple datasets from the literature to represent various situations for woody species. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to: (i) compare the predictions of uptake by the NST 3.0, SSAND, and PCATS models for a suite of nutrients against experimentally measured values, (ii) compare the behavior of the three models using a one dimensional sensitivity analysis; and (iii) compare and contrast the behavior of NST 3.0 and SSAND using a multiple dimensional sensitivity analysis approach. Predictions of nutrient uptake by the three models when run with a common data set were diverse, indicating a need for a reexamination of model structure. The failure of many of the predictions to match observations indicates the need for further studies which produce representative datasets so that the predictive accuracy of each model can be evaluated. Both types of sensitivity analyses suggest that the effect of soil moisture on simulation can be influential when nutrient concentration in the soil solution (CLi) is low. One dimensional sensitivity analysis also revealed that Imax negatively influenced the uptake estimates from the SSAND and PCATS models. Further analysis indicates that this counter intuitive response of Imax is probably related to low soil nutrient supply. The predictions of SSAND under low-nutrient-supply scenarios are generally lower than those of NST 3.0. We suspect that both of these results are artifacts of the steady state models and further studies to improve them, such as incorporating important rhizospheric effects, are needed if they are to be used successfully for the longer growth periods and lower soil nutrient supply situations more typical of woody species.

Imax, model comparison, sensitivity analysis, multiple dimensional sensitivity analysis, soil moisture