Modeling water and nutrient dynamics in pine forests


Scientists at North Carolina State University and the US Forest Service have developed a model to help managers understand the processes controlling forest productivity and water quality. The model, DRAINMOD-FOREST, is
based on a platform of hydrology and forest growth models and incorporates data from field studies and the scientific literature.

Of particular interest is its utility for evaluating the environmental fate of forest fertilizers. Because fertilizer fate field studies are costly and it is difficult to extrapolate beyond the sites of measurement, models could provide valuable complementary information to guide management practices and identify information gaps.

The model is described in a recent paper, “DRAINMOD-FOREST: Integrated modeling of hydrology, soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics, and plant growth for drained forests,” written by S. Tian, M. A. Youssef, R. W. Skaggs, D. M. Amatya, and G. M. Chescheir. The paper appeared in the Journal of Environmental Quality 41:764-782 (2012).

A second paper by the same authors, “Modeling water, carbon, and nitrogen dynamics for two drained pine plantations under intensive management practices,” was recently published in Forest Ecology and Management 264:20-36 (2012). This second paper demonstrates that DRAINMOD-FOREST can predict water, C and N dynamics in drained pine forests under intensive management practices.

The work presented in both publications was supported by the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and Center for Forested Wetlands Research, NCASI, the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, and the Weyerhaeuser Company.  

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