DAYCENT is the daily time-step version of the CENTURY biogeochemical model (Parton et al., 1994). DAYCENT simulates fluxes of C and N among the atmosphere, vegetation, and soil (Del Grosso et al., 2001a; Parton et al., 1998). Key submodels include soil water content and temperature by layer, plant production and allocation of net primary production (NPP), decomposition of litter and soil organic matter, mineralization of nutrients, N gas emissions from nitrification and denitrification, and CH4 oxidation in non-saturated soils. Flows of C and N between the different soil organic matter pools are controlled by the size of the pools, C/N ratio and lignin content of material, and abiotic water/temperature factors. Plant production is a function of genetic potential, phenology, nutrient availability, water/temperature stress, and solar radiation. NPP is allocated to plant components (e.g., roots vs. shoots) based on vegetation type, phenology, and water/nutrient stress. Nutrient concentrations of plant components vary within specified limits, depending on vegetation type, and nutrient availability relative to plant demand. Decomposition of litter and soil organic matter and nutrient mineralization are functions of substrate availability, substrate quality (lignin %, C/N ratio), and water/temperature stress. N gas fluxes from nitrification and denitrification are driven by soil NH4 and NO3 concentrations, water content, temperature, texture, and labile C availability (Parton et al., 2001).
Model inputs are: daily maximum/minimum air temperature and precipitation, surface soil texture class, and land cover/use data (e.g., vegetation type, cultivation/planting schedules, amount and timing of nutrient amendments).
Model outputs include: daily N-gas flux (N2O, NOx, N2), CO2 flux from heterotrophic soil respiration, soil organic C and N, NPP, H2O and NO3 leaching, and other ecosystem parameters.
Recent improvements to the model include the ability to schedule management events daily and the option of making crop germination a function of soil temperature and harvest date a function of accumulated growing degree days.
The ability of DAYCENT to simulate NPP, soil organic carbon, N2O emissions, and NO3 leaching has been tested with data from various native and managed systems(Del Grosso et al., 2001b; 2002; 2005).