Current issue: 56(4)
An ecophysiological growth process model, called INCA, for simulating the growth and development of a young walnut tree (Juglans regia L.) during three or four years, is presented. This tool, currently under development, aims at integrating architectural and physiological knowledge of the processes involved, in order to give a more rational understanding of the pruning operation. The model describes a simple three-dimensional representation of tree crown, solar radiation interception, photosynthesis, respiration, growth and partitioning of assimilates to leaves, stems, branches and roots. It supports the hypothesis that the tree grows as a collection of semiautonomous, interacting organs that compete for resources, based on daily sink strengths and proximity to sources. The actual growth rate of organs is not predetermined by empirical data, but reflects the pattern of available resources. The major driving variables are solar radiation, temperature, topological, geometrical and physiological factors. Outputs are hourly and daily photosynthate production and respiration, daily dimensional growth, starch storage, biomass production and total number of different types of organ. The user can interact or override any or all of the input variables to examine the effects of such changes on photosynthate production and growth. Within INCA, the tree entities and the surrounding environment are structured in a frame-based representation whereas the processes are coded in a rule-based language. The simulation mechanism is primarily based on the rule chaining capabilities of an inference engine.
A method for the measurement of the three-dimensional (3D) architecture of trees was applied to describe two 20-year-old walnut trees, one of them is a timber tree while the other is a fruit tree. The method works at the shoot level and simultaneously describes the plant topology, the plant geometry and the shoot morphology. The method uses a 3D digitiser (3SPACE® FASTRAK®, Polhemus Inc.) associated with software DiplAmi designed for digitiser control and data acquisition management. Plant images may be reconstructed from the data set by using the ray tracing software POV-Ray. Visual comparison between photographs of the walnut trees and images synthesised from digitising was satisfactory. Distribution of basal shoot diameter, as well as leaf area and fruit distributions for both the timber and the fruit tree were non-uniformly distributed in the crown volume. Gradients were likely to be related to the light distribution within the tree. This is in agreement with previous experimental results on several tree species, and also with the predictions of tree architecture models based on light-vegetation interactions.