R-SWMS (Javaux et al., 2008) is a numerical model for simulating solute transport and water flow in and between the soil and the plant systems. Based on the flow and transport equations in the 3-D soil matrix and within the 3-D root xylem network, it simulates the uptake of solute and water by plant roots for a growing plant. Three-dimensional root growth is also modeled as a function of environmental conditions (soil strength, temperature) and plant parameters (gravitropism, sensitivity to soil strength, etc.).
The code main programming language is Fortran 90 but it also has a part in C++. It has originally been created from the code of Clausnitzer and Hopmans (1994). Since then, it has been developed by several contributors through postdoc, PhD and Master theses principally at the Agrosphere Institute of the Forschungszentrum Juelich (DE) and at the Université catholique de Louvain (BE).
Sathyanaryan Rao (PhD student at UClouvain) used R-SWMS to simulate drought experiment of maize plants in rhizotrons monitored with Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT). He investigated how the presence of roots affected the bulk soil electrical conductivity. He demonstrated that the contraxt between soil and root was a key factor for monitoring root systems with ERT.
For the first time ever, a functional–structural root-system model (FSRSM) is validated by combining a tracer experiment monitored with magnetic resonance imaging and three-dimensional modeling of water and solute transport. This study is the first that combines 4D (space and time) root system architecture with spatially resolved measurements of root-zone tracer concentrations to validate/parameterize a FSRSM. We have shown that R-SWMS, a FSRSM, can properly represent water and solute fluxes in the root zone. Moreover, 3D tracer distribution maps were demonstrated to contain valuable information for inferring the hydraulic parameters of roots of different orders and ages. The parameter set obtained was in the range of other previous studies of lupin plants. This great work by Axelle Koch (UCLouvain) and colleagues is published in Journal of Experimental Botany. You can download it here
Valentin Couvreur and colleagues just released their new model on water flow through roots. Their new article 'Going with the flow: multiscale insights into the composite nature of water transport in roots' is published in Plant Physiology and available online. See publication here.
It describes a new model that simulates the distribution of the water fluxes and potentials between the soil root interface and the xylems vessels. The paper demonstrates how anatomy, plasmodesmata, and membrane permeability control the distribution of water fluxes through roots. You can also try it online! MECHA
R-SWMS was originally developped in the Agrosphere institute of the Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH in 2004-2006. It has then been continuously developped through research projects and PhD grants at the Forschungszentrum Juelich (Germany), at the Katolieke Universiteit Leuven(Belgium) and at the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium).
Jülich Forschungszentrum conduct research to provide comprehensive solutions to the grand challenges facing society in the three fields of energy and environment, information and brain research.
Earth and Life Institute
The Earth and Life Institute pursues the objectives of understanding the basic processes of the Earth & Life System at different scales and designing sustainable solutions to meet major challenges for our societies.