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Michigan State UniversitySALUS Model


The SALUS (System Approach to Land Use Sustainability) program is designed to model continuous crop, soil, water and nutrient conditions under different management strategies for multiple years . These strategies may have various crop rotations, planting dates, plant populations, irrigation and fertilizer applications, and tillage regimes. The program will simulate plant growth and soil conditions every day (during growing seasons and fallow periods) for any time period when weather sequences are available. For any simulation run, a number of different management strategies can be run simultaneously. By running the different strategies at the same time we can compare this effect on crops and soil under the same weather sequences. This also provides a framework whereby the interaction between different areas under different management practices can be easily compared.

Every day, and for each management strategy being run, all major components of the crop-soil-water model are executed. These components are management practices, water balance, soil organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorous dynamics, heat balance, plant growth and plant development. The water balance considers surface runoff, infiltration, surface evaporation, saturated and unsaturated soil water flow, drainage, root water uptake, soil evaporation and transpiration. The soil organic matter and nutrient model simulates organic matter decomposition, N mineralization and formation of ammonium and nitrate, N immobilization, gaseous N losses and three pools of phosphorous. The development and growth of plants considers the environmental conditions (particularly temperature and light) to calculate the potential rates of growth for the plant. This growth is then reduced based on water and nitrogen limitations.

SALUS is still very much a work in progress. The system is available for any non-comercial use at no charge. Please contact Dr. Basso ( or Brian Baer ( to obtain a copy.

If you experience problems with this website please contact Brian Baer at

SALUS is maintained by the Basso Lab:

Dr. Bruno Basso
Dr. Basso's CV
Department Geological Science Web Site