Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

A Free accessible individual-based simulator enabling virtual experiments on soil organic matter processes in classroom

Anna Maria Gras Moreu, Juan Carlos Cañadas Lorenzo, Marta Ginovart Gisbert


This work addresses and aims to fulfil a very clear need in teaching biosystem engineering. When introducing
students to the complexity of soil processes, one of the frustrations that teachers ofen experience is the
impossibility to demonstrate practically, in the lab, some of the concepts and processes discussed in class.
Either the experiments take far longer than a typical laboratory session or they require access to specific
equipment. To deal with this situation, it would be ideal for students to be able to do virtual experiments. The
purpose of this work is to display the individual-based simulation model INDISIM-SOM, available free from a
website, and to show how it can be used in experiments or as a teaching-learning instrument in the classroom.
The computational model has been designed specifically for the study of soil organic matter and is based
mainly on the activity conducted by two diferent prototypes of microorganisms. One option of using INDISIMSOM
is as a way to introduce the individual-based model as a methodology to improve understanding of the
agents involved in soil microbial system and their processes. Another option is to develop the ability to work
with simulators by connecting concepts and helping students in the development of modelling competence.
Virtual experiments were carried out as an example of what may be expected from using the INDISIM-SOM
web simulator. Temporal evolutions of five virtual soils with diferent organic C content and proportional
content in organic N, easily hidrolyzable N, nitrate and ammonia were generated and discussed.

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