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Environmental impact calculator

Environmentagriculturenitrogen cyclephosphorus cyclepesticidesirrigationfarming practices


Environmentagriculturenitrogen cyclephosphorus cyclepesticidesirrigationfarming practices

main purpose

EPIC simulates approximately eighty crops, predicting effects of management decisions on soil, water, nutrient and pesticide movements, and their combined impact on soil loss, water quality, and crop yields for areas with homogeneous soils and management. 


The EPIC model was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to assess the status of U.S. soil and water resources and has been continuously expanded and refined to better analyze the exchange of GHG fluxes between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. It is used around the world by research groupsinstitutions, like IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis), who calibrate EPIC to meet their own needs.

It is a biophysical, continuous, field scale agriculture management model. It integrates a large number of biophysical processes and allows assimilation of Earth Observation products allowing for global calibration of environmental impact assessments. It simulates crop water requirements and the fate of nutrients and pesticides as affected by farming activities such as the timing of agrochemicals application, tillage, crop rotation, irrigation strategies, etc., while providing at the same time a basic farm economic account. The main components can be divided in the following items: hydrology, weather, erosion, nutrients, soil temperature, and plant growth. EPIC maintains a daily water balance taking into account runoff, drainage, irrigation and evapotranspiration. EPIC simulates nitrogen phosphorus cycling and losses. Nitrogen and phosphorus can be lost in dissolved and particulate forms. Losses occur through surface runoff, leaching to the aquifer, gaseous losses and sediment transport.

EPIC is used to assess the economic and environmental effects on agricultural and forest lands of enhancing carbon sinks and GHG abatement measures.


model type


Third-party ownership (commercial companies, Member States, other organisations, …)
Texas A&M AgriLife Research


Licence type:
Free Software licence


details on model structure and approach

The EPIC model was developed to evaluate the effect of various land management strategies on 
agricultural sustainability including erosion, water supply and quality, soil quality, plant competition,
weather, pests, and economics. Management capabilities include irrigation, drainage, furrow diking, buffer strips, terraces, waterways, fertilization, manure management, lagoons, reservoirs, crop rotation and selection, pesticide application, grazing, and tillage. Besides these farm management functions, EPIC can be used to evaluate the effects of global climate change. EPIC is an application written in Fortan with the possibility to use a user friendly graphical interface (WinEPIC).

model inputs

Model inputs:

  • daily meteorological data
  • soil profile information: texture, organic matter content
  • landuse data with crop distribution
  • farm management data: planting, harvesting, tillage, fertilization, pesticide application, irrigation

More specifically:

  • regional and global weather/climate change data (statistics)
  • regional and global soil data
  • regional and global land use data and representative crop rotations
  • regional and global topography data
  • regional and global crop management data (e.g. fertilization, irrigation, tillage)

model outputs

Model output:

  • biomass production
  • nutrient losses:
    • nitrate losses ins surface runoff and leaching to aquifers
    • organic N losses in sediments
    • gaseous losses of N
    • phosphorus leaching to aquifer and losses with sediments and surface runoff
  • nutrient pool

More specifically:

  • crop yields
  • hydrology (PET, runoff, percolation)
  • sediment transport
  • N-leaching
  • greenhouse gases
  • soil carbon sequestrations

model spatial-temporal resolution and extent

Spatial Extent/Country Coverage
EU Member states 27Ecowas countriesAfrica
EU27+Switzerland and Turkey
Spatial Resolution
Regular Grid 10km - 50km
10X10 km grid
Temporal Extent
Medium-term (5 to 15 years)Long-term (more than 15 years)
Temporal Resolution