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Modeling crop growth, water, carbon and nitrogen dynamics in cropping systems

24 - 30 September 2018

AU-Foulum, Blichers Allé 20, DK-8830 Tjele (meeting room 1)

Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, AU-Foulum are pleased to announce the PhD course "Modelling Climate Effects in the Soil-Crop System".

The course is held at Research Centre Foulum, AU-Foulum, from 24 - 30 September 2018. We are located in the countryside app. 15 km E of Viborg, see google map.

Volume of the course is 5 ECTS and the target group is Phd students within agronomy, environmental engineering or biology.


Pre-registration for the course is open via this link. We will then contact you with further details.

We will inform you later on how to pay the course fee. The course fee is 500 €. The fee covers course materials, some transportation and some meals, see under "Practical Information".

If you have any questions regarding course contents, please contact course organiser senior scientist Christen Duus Børgesen.

If you have any questions regarding practicalities, please contact secretary Jytte Christensen.

Download the course flyer. 


Modeling the effects of climate, soil properties, soil organic matter and nitrogen fertilization on crop photosynthesis, growth and development is vital for evaluating the effects on yields and the risk of nitrogen losses of different cropping systems.

This course aims at giving the Ph.D. student a thorough background in calibration, evaluation and use of existing models of crops, soil water, soil organic matter and mineral nitrogen in soil and their possible inter actions. The course will include a combination of lectures, hands-on model development, and hands-on evaluation and use of existing models. Lectures and exercises will cover all steps in the modeling process: qualitative and quantitative model formulation, parameter estimation, and model validation and analysis. Parts of the dynamic modeling process will be exemplified using the simulation model DAISY. Other parts will be based on use of the empirical nitrate leaching model NLES4.  The practical and theoretical exercises will be conducted in groups. Each practical exercise will result in a short exercise report from each student. These reports will make up the student personal course portfolio.



Learning outcomes and competences

At the end of the course the student should be able to:

  • Explain the relations between a model, empirical knowledge and the real system.
  • Explain the main classification of models (static/dynamic, empirical/mechanistic, deterministic/stochastic) and other central definitions
  • Reflect on choice of model type for simulation of crop growth, soil water balance and soil organic transformation and on the level of detail.
  • Evaluate the possible effects of soil organic matter transformation in soil and its feedback on crop growth and nitrogen losses.
  • Use of empirical models predicting nitrate leaching and compare the results with determistic mechanistic model predictions.
  • Evaluate the sensitivity of a model to uncertainty associated with parameters and input in crop models 
  • Reflect on the ability of the resulting model to describe a real cropping system and  to predict change in nitrogen fertilization effects on crop growth and nitrogen losses    

Practical information

Housing during the course week:

The course week will consist of very long and intensive days, so if you don’t already live in Viborg or Foulum, we recommend you to book accommodation in Viborg. 

It is your own responsibility to arrange accommodation. We recommend that you book a room close to the city center.


Transport to and from Foulum:

It is your own responsibility to come to Foulum in the morning Monday – Friday. From Viborg you can take regional bus #62 (leaving central bus station 07:38) or bus #750 (leaving central bus station 07:40). 

We arrange common transport back to Viborg in the evening of each course day. Saturday 29 September and Sunday 30 September we also arrange common transport from Viborg to Foulum in the morning and back to Viborg in the evening. 


  • We provide you with coffee/the, fruit and cake during each course day.
  • Lunch is on your own. You can bring your own lunch or buy in Foulum canteen. During the weekend of 29 and 30 September we provide you with lunch though.
  • Dinner is included (except Sunday 30 September).



How to find your way to Viborg


The railway station is located in the center of Viborg. If you plan to come by train, maybe this link can help you www.rejseplanen.dk (English version available). 

If you fly into Copenhagen Airport, you can take the train to Viborg (app. 4.5 hours trip).


The nearest airport is Midtjyllands Airport. Midtjyllands Airport is not an international airport, but there is daily connections to Copenhagen. The airport is serviced by Danish Air Transport and you can see daily connections on their homepage: www.dat.dk

The cheapest way of transport from Midtjyllands Airport to Viborg is the TELETAXA. You need to book a seat in the TELETAXA beforehand. You can call the company at least one day before arrival (phone: +45 87 40 83 00 - press '3'). The price one way is app. 40 DKK and must be paid to the driver (only cash and Danish currency is accepted). You can also e-mail Jytte Christensen (mailto: Jytte.Christensen@agro.au.dk) and ask her to book a seat for you. 

Using AALBORG AIRPORT, AARHUS AIRPORT or BILLUND AIRPORT is also a possibility, but it can be a bit more complicated to come to Viborg by public transport from these airports. 

AARHUS AIRPORT to Viborg: The best option is to take the airport bus to Aarhus C and then take a train to Viborg (travel time from Aarhus to Viborg by train app. 75 minutes). 

AALBORG AIRPORT to Viborg: If you arrive at Aalborg Airport you can take the airport bus to Aalborg Bus Terminal. From Aalborg Bus Terminal you can take either route no 960X or 980X to Viborg.   

COPENHAGEN AIRPORT: If you fly into Copenhagen Airport, you can take the train to Viborg (app. 4.5 hours trip).