A Functional Structural Plant Model (FSPM) for growth and development of soybean

Project Details


Main research question/goal

This project aims to establish a Functional-Structural Plant Model (FSPM) of soy. Such a model describes the development of the plant in a mathematical way based on plant physiological mechanisms and reactions to its environment and cultivation techniques. An FSPM thus clarifies the effects of environment and cultivation technique on plant functioning and on plant architecture in a quantitative and integrated way. If Flanders wants to grow soy successfully (in order to reduce imports from South America and to expand crop rotation), cultivation techniques and cultivar selection will have to be tackled with expertise, given the very different practice in South America. The FSPM can contribute to understanding and predicting plant properties such as architecture or yield under given environmental conditions.

Research approach
We set up the FSPM model for soy using "L-systems" formalisms, in which the formation and development of plant organs are simulated on the basis of the observed environmental conditions. Detailed measurements are made for model development, calibration and validation: (1) Plant morphology: height, branching, leaf angle, leaf shape, leaf surface, etc., using manual measurements as well as image analysis. For ecophysiology, photosynthesis, transpiration, water potential, etc. are studied. In this way we build functional variables and parameters in the model that we link to the plant architecture.


This project has resulted in a Functional-Structural Plant Model in which detailed plant water relations are connected to the growth and development of a soybean plant. This is the first 3-D model that can describe plant growth in this way. This provides a substantial improvement for modeling plant growth under climate change, where the availability of water can change drastically. Based on this model, studies will be set up to investigate plant traits that are crucial for breeding soybean in West European conditions.

Effective start/end date1/07/1331/01/19