Soil surface structure and morphology deeply influence a lot of processes of high agronomic and environmental relevance, such as mass and heat transfer through the soil-atmosphere interface, runoff and erosion, seed germination and seedling emergence. The soil surface structure of agricultural field is in continuous evolution: it is strongly affected by tillage, and in between tillage operations, erosion by rainfall and runoff causes a progressive degradation of the structure whose intensity and speed partly depend on the initial state associated to tillage modalities. A soil surface degradation model could allow to predict this evolution of the soil surface structure, and even to help choosing adequate tillage practices and sowing dates. Erosion modelling has been addressed by soil scientists but also by computer graphic scientists in order to add realism to virtual landscapes. Mixing both of these points of view would be interesting to simulate and visualize the evolution of the soil surface of a cultivated soil. In this paper, we present our project of a simulator of soil surface degradation by rainfall at a small spatial scale (1 m2 or less), including visualization, and which is mainly based on a 3D cellular automata approach with a specific type of cell. The choices made for the implementation of our model are discussed in the light of the results found in the literature with different modelling approaches.
Simulation, soil science, natural phenomena, cellular automata, visualization