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Source: www.swap.alterra.ni

Research model: SWAP


SWAP (Soil, Water, Atmosphere and Plant) simulates transport of water, solutes and heat in unsaturated/saturated soils.

The model is designed to simulate flow and transport processes at field scale level, during growing seasons and for long term time series.


Basic specifications of the model:

Name of model

SWAP – Soil Water Atmosphere Plant, v.3x and v4x

About the model


Purpose of model

Simulates transport of water, solutes, and heat in unsaturated and saturated soils. The model is designed to simulate flow and transport processes at field scale level, during growing seasons and for long term time series.


Wageningen UR, The Netherlands




1D/semi 2D profile


Daily (hourly)

Process description


Model type

Process based





Snow dynamics


Infiltration & water flow

Yes, Richards equation

Frozen soil


Surface runoff

Yes, Hortonian and saturation excess

Crop growth

Yes, simple or more complex approach via link to WOFOST

Macropore flow

Yes (not in frozen soil)

Nitrogen transport

Yes, often linked to ANIMO model


Yes, both potential and actual ET are calculated

Phosphorus transport

No, often linked to ANIMO model

Artificial drainage

Yes, different options

Particle transport




Pesticide transport

No, often linked to ANIMO model


The rswap soft calibration and visualization tool has been developed in NIBIO in 2023.


EMR member(s) with SWAP expertis:

 - Sigrun Hjalmarsdottir Kværnø

Attila Nemes

- Jannes Stolte


To document


The H2020 OPTAIN project involves both, catchment-, and field-scale modelling of the transport of water and nutrients. The catchment-scale modelling is performed at fourteen case study catchments across Europe using the SWAT+ model. At seven OPTAIN case studies, field-scale modelling is applied using the SWAP model. The aim of the SWAP modelling is to provide data on soil water balance elements using a more detailed (at field-scale) soil hydrological model and to cross-validate this data with the relevant fields in SWAT+. As the official manual from the SWAP model developers is rather detailed and complex, the OPTAIN SWAP modelling protocol focuses on practical issues, without overwhelming the modellers with information unnecessary for their case-studies. It also describes new tools, such as rswap, developed within the OPTAIN project for reference data quality check, model calibration and visualisation of the model results.


swap is an R-package designed to help interface and work with SWAP4 model. It consists of a variety of functions that assist the user in otherwise tedious and repetitive tasks.



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