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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Role of Models in Conservation of Land and Water Resources-a Historicalperspective

Author
item Laflen, John

Submitted to: Management of Landscapes Disturbed by Channel Incision Stabilization Rehabi
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Natural resource models have been available for the last 3 to 4 decades, but they have not been user friendly, and not well supported by readily available databases. Displacing the presently used technologies with computer models will be very difficult because of the ease of use and the confidence users have in such technologies. Additionally, existing technologies have been maintained and enhanced by strong applied research programs. Present day models are better supported by databases, and are much more complete than earlier models. The next generation of models will be suites of models supported by common databases and use common components. This report will help developers of technology and administrators understand the difficulties in developing and implementing new technologies.

Technical Abstract: Land and water resource management for sustainability is an undertaking whose complexity continues to increase. Land and water resource needs are not ephemeral, but increase with time. In times past, a problem could be approached experimentally. But, the problems have become so complex and so holistic that experimental approaches alone cannot suffice. New approaches to problem solving for natural resources are needed. Modeling of land and water systems is frequently the only way to get the needed answers for natural resource management. This is not intended to say that experimental approaches are needed no longer, but rather, experimental approaches are needed to yield understanding of the processes, linkages and parameters within the system, while modeling will deal with the system. Models have been with us for some time, but only in recent years have they become widely available for problem solving. Early models described only small parts of systems, recent models have attempted to model almost all the system. Early models were limited by computational capabilities available to developers or users of the models. More recent models have been limited by understanding of processes, linkages and databases. As we gain further confidence that we understand and can parameterize processes and linkages, complex, holistic models will be accepted tools for providing the information to assist land users in management of land and water resources. For acceptance and use of models, more attention must be given to the user and how he interacts with models. The next generation of models will be suites of models that will be supported by common databases, common components, and easy to use.

Last Modified: 12/26/2014
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