The Phyto-DSS

Phytomanagement, which includes phytoremediation, phytomining, land-disposal of effluent, and bioenergy production, is site specific due to the plethora of environmental variables that affect plant growth and contaminant mobility. Most contaminated sites contain a heterogeneous mixture of several contaminants. Climatic variables and soil properties may reduce plant growth. The commercial success of phytomanagement is dependent on convincing decision makers that this technology can satisfy environmental regulations. Obviously, field demonstrations at each site are not practical. We therefore developed the Phytoremediation Decision Support System (Phyto-DSS) that calculates the environmental effects of phytomanagement as well as its costs, compared to other technologies or inaction.

The Phyto-DSS is a “whole system”-type model that calculates plant growth, water flux, component (e.g. contaminant or nutrients) flux, and costs & income over large vegetated areas. These simulations reveal the feasibility, risk, and potential outcomes of phytomanagement. The system requires daily climate data, as well as data on the substrate and the plants. The Phyto-DSS makes an economic assessment by comparing the costs of phytoremediation with those of inaction, and the best alternative technology.

The Phyto-DSS was created in 2000 at the, Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología de Sevilla, Spain during an OECD fellowship. Subsequently, the Phyto-DSS was developed at HortResearch, Palmerston North, New Zealand (2001 - 2004), and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurch, Switzerland (2005 – 2007).

Download the Phyto-DSS

Description of processes in the Phyto-DSS


Glossary of parameters in the Phyto-DSS


Use of the Phyto-DSS

The Phyto-DSS calculates the effect of vegetation on the flux of contaminants and water. This information can reveal the biogeochemical and economic feasibility of phytomanagement, such as on this five-hectare wood waste pile in New Zealand. Details of this project can be found in Robinson et al. (2003a).Commercial contact: HortResearch, New Zealand (

Phyto-DSS related publications

Robinson BH, Green SR, Mills TM, Clothier BE, van der Velde M, Laplane R, Fung L, Deurer M, Hurst S, Thayalakumaran T, van den Dijssel C (2003). Phytoremediation: using plants as biopumps to improve degraded environments. Australian Journal of Soil Research 41(3), 599-611.

Robinson BH, Fernández JE, Madejón P, Marañón T, Murillo JM, Green SR, Clothier BE (2003). Phytoextraction: an assessment of biogeochemical and economic viability. Plant and Soil 249(1), 117-125.

Robinson BH, Green SR, Anderson CWN, Clothier BE (2003) A phytoextraction decision support system and its use in the commercial environment Proceedings of the US EPA International applied phytotechnologies conference. March 3-5 Chicago Il. [PRESENTATION]

Robinson B, Green S, Mills T, Clothier B, Fung L, Hurst S, Snow V, McIvor I, Sivakumaran S, van den Dijssel C, Babbage N (2003) Assessment of phytoextraction as best management practice for degraded environments. In Environmental management using soil-pant systems. pp 39 - 50 Eds LD Currie et al. Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre, Palmerston North.

Robinson BH, Green SR, Clothier BE, van der Velde M, Fung L, Thayalakumaran T, Snow V, Fernandez JE, Madejón P, Marañón T, Murillo JM (2002) Modelling plant-metal uptake from contaminated soils NZ Land Treatment Collective / Proceedings of the Technical Session No 23.

Robinson B, Green S, Clothier B, Vogeler I, Thayalakumaran T, Fung L, Deurer M, van den Dijssel C, Hurst S (2001) Assessing phytoextraction: biogeochemical and economic viability Proceedings of the 6th international conference on the biogeochemistry of trace elements Guelph Aug 29 – Sep 3.