A simulation model consists of equations that represent the important relationships between components in a system, e.g., a plant or plant part. One of the purposes of simulation models is to simulate plant growth or plant growth processes to help further our understanding of plant growth and development. Simulation models are mechanistic or process based models that account for the physiological processes occurring in the system.
Model development involves several steps. We define the problem and defuse the system, its entities, their attributes, and important relationships. A conceptual model is often expressed visually in a relational diagram showing the components and their relationships. This diagram is formally expressed as a simulation model through the use of equations repenting the relationships in the system. We often make assumptions regarding the components and their relationships to simply the model or because of a lack of knowledge. Simulation models are generally written using a simulation language such as CSMP or STELLA® or with a programming language such as FORTRAN or BASIC. The model is verified through checking the appropriateness of the relationships and the integrity of the computer program. The model is then validated through seeing bow well it simulates the behavior of the system. Simulation models provide additional insights by enabling us to ask “What if” questions by changing of the conditions of the model and seeing the resulting changes in plant growth.