This three dimensional simulated root system calculates nutrient and water uptake as the roots grow and receive photosynthate from the shoot in a virtual 3D soil environment.


SimRoot is a 3D architectural root model. It simulates the growth of a root system over time in a 3D virtual space and is coupled to a 3D soil model, to compute water and nutrient uptake by the use of functional modules. Growth is predefined in SimRoot. An infinite number of root classes can be defined, each with it's own growth and branching pattern. Collection of the growth and branching patterns takes time, but is possible using several methods outlined on this site such as pouch studies, crown evaluation and root coring. Currently input files for maize and bean are available.

SimRoot as a research tool

SimRoot allows us to study the effect of specific root traits on resource acquisition. SimRoot has a built in carbon model which allows us to study the carbon economy of plants and a nutrient model which allows us to study nutrient uptake. A water model has been currently integrated into the open source version of SimRoot (see below). Thus with SimRoot we can study the importance of a trait under multiple resource constraints.


Currently, we have conducted simulation studies on root cortical aerenchyma (RCA), root cortical senescence (RCS), lateral root branching density (LRBD) and its synergism with root hairs, axial root angles in maize, and complimentary root structures in the “three sisters” (maize, bean and squash) cropping system. Benefits of reduced root cortical cell file number (CCFN) and enlarged root cortical cell size (CCS) on nutrient stressed maize is being investigated using SimRoot.

Open source version of SimRoot


OpenSimRoot as a research tool allows us to study the effect of a specific root trait on resource acquisition, so that we can study the importance of a trait under multiple resource constraints.

A benefit of OpenSimRoot is its modular program structure. It is now fully C++ and relies only on standard libraries.


Current version of SimRoot is hosted on It is freely accessible for developers and users from various institutes. To gain access, please contact the following personnel:


Johannes Postma:

Christian Kuppe:

SimRoot in action

You can find several publications on our publication page.

Technical Specification

To know more, click on links below

Modeling advice

Functioning of several SimRoot modules

Visualize several traits that can be modeled in SimRoot

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