PPS-20306 Systems Analysis, Simulation and Systems Management


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Practical intensively supervised48
Course coordinator(s)dr. MT van Wijk
Lecturer(s)dr. MT van Wijk
dr. ir. WAH Rossing
dr. ir. JCJ Groot
Examiner(s)dr. MT van Wijk
dr. ir. JCJ Groot
dr. ir. WAH Rossing

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

The courses in the preparatory trajectories of PPS, BFS, CSA and HPC


Systems approaches are widely used in studies of ecological systems for the purpose of increasing our understanding of ecosystems functioning and improving systems management. The application domain ranges from the (sub-)individual level to the (agro-)ecosystem level. Systems approaches represent a scientific concept in which the real world is divided into systems. Depending on the specific objective, these systems are analysed and captured in quantitative simulation models. Studying model behaviour in comparison to real world behaviour allows testing of hypotheses and increases knowledge.
This course introduces the student to the study of the behaviour of complex ecological systems. The course comprises three blocks:
1. systems dynamics;
2. simulation of simple systems;
3. integrating case studies.
In the block 'systems dynamics', concepts are introduced such as system, model, simulation, state, rate, feedback, time- coefficient, relational diagram, analysis of dimensions or units, numerical integration methods and discontinuities in integral contents.
'Simulation of simple systems' comprises exponential, logistic and paralogistic growth of a single population, interaction of two populations according to Lotka-Volterra, numerical dispersion during simulation of spatially distributed systems, crop growth and effects of pests.
The final block consists of integrating case studies where knowledge of the previous blocks is integrated and applied. The case studies will address system identification, model development, model evaluation and exploration of management options. Cases will be developed for themes from ecology, crop science and soil science.
The course is intended for 2nd or 3rd year university students, in particular for biologists, agro-ecologists, crop protectionists and soil scientists, but the way of thinking and the simulation techniques presented are applicable in many different fields of science.

Learning outcomes:

After thoroughly studying the written materials, preparing and critically following the lectures and performing the practicals, you should be able to demonstrate:
- how to apply elementary concepts such as feedback, time coefficient, relational diagram, analysis of units and numerical integration methods, following the conventions of the systems analysis approach;
- how to analyse systems in terms of states, rates and driving variables;
- that you understand and can develop basic simulation models, and are able to discuss their outcome;
- how systems approaches can be applied in crop science, soil science and crop protection and what their usefulness is for evaluating options for improved systems management.


- lectures;
- tutorials in which exercises are solved using paper and pencil and by means of a computer;
- application of the subject matter in case studies elaborated in small groups;
- presentations of case study results in workshops.


Written, closed book exam with questions aimed at testing the gained insights and knowledge.


A reader will be available from the secretariat of the group at Radix. The reader contains many exercises that enable the student to apply concepts and tools.

Compulsory for: BBIBiologyBScD: Ecology and Biodiversity2MO
BPWPlant SciencesBScB: Plant Production and Ecology2MO
Restricted Optional for: MPSPlant SciencesMScA: Crop Science2MO
Compulsory for: WUCCPBSc Minor Concepts in Crop Production2MO