Ward Smith Ph.D.

Image Ward Smith
Scientist - Agroecosystem Modelling

Conducts research on improving process-based agricultural models and integrating new modelling approaches into AAFC programs

Current research and/or projects

  • Lead. Modelling approaches for identifying efficient and resilient management for cropping systems across Canada (AAFC internal funds)
  • Co-lead. Evaluation of commercial inhibitors’ impact on crop productivity and nitrous oxide emissions (AAFC internal funds)
  • Sustainable Crop Production in Canada under Climate Change (collaborator)
  • Understanding methane emissions from liquid manure storage across Canada (collaborator)
  • Life cycle analysis of farm systems (collaborator)
  • Water use efficiency in dairy farming (collaborator)
  • Environmental aspects of biogas (collaborator)
  • Assessing Economic and Environmental Aspects of 4R Nutrient Stewardship in Ontario (collaborator)

Research and/or project statements

As an expert in agro-ecosystem modelling, Ward leads research to assess the resilience and sustainability of cropping systems in Canada. He integrates new knowledge from agronomic experiments into models and uses them to investigate the impacts of agricultural management practices on crop productivity, soil organic carbon, GHG emissions, ammonia volatilization and nutrient losses to tile drains and runoff. He studies ways to reduce adverse impacts of climate change on cropping systems and determines soils at risk in Canada. Ward leads and collaborates in several international studies focused on improving and inter-comparing agricultural models.

Recent publications 


  1. Ping He, Xinpeng Xu , Wei Zhou , Ward Smith , Wentian He , Brian Grant , Wencheng Ding, Shaojun Qiu , Shicheng Zhao. 2020. Ensuring future agricultural sustainability in China utilizing an observationally validated nutrient recommendation approach. European Journal of Agronomy. 132: 126409. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2021.126409


  1. Wentian He a, b, W.N. Smith b, B.B. Grant b, Qi Jing b, R. Lemke c, M. St Luce d, Rong Jiang b, Budong Qian b, B.. 2021. Measuring and modeling soil carbon sequestration under diversified cropping systems in the semiarid prairies of western Canada. J. Cleaner Production.
  2. Budong Qian, Qi Jing, Alex J. Cannon,  Ward Smith,  Brian Grant, Mikhail A. Semenov, Yue-Ping Xu, Di Ma. Effectiveness of using representative subsets of global climate models in future crop yield projections. Scientific Reports. 11: 20565.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-99378-7
  3. Chang Liang, Xiying Hao, Jeff Schoenau, Baoluo Mad, Tiequan Zhang, Douglas  MacDonald, Martin Chantigny, Miles Dyck, W.N. Smith, Sukhdev Malhi,  Arumugam Thiagarajan, Jean Lafond, Denis Angers. Manure-induced carbon retention measured from long-term field studies in Canada. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment. 321(1) 107619. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107619
  4. Aaron De Laporte, Kamaljit Banger, Alfons Weersink, Claudia Wagner-Riddle, Brian Grant and Ward Smith. 2021. Economic and environmental nitrate leaching consequences of 4R nitrogen management practices including use of inhibitors for corn production in Ontario. Journal of Environmental Management. Journal of Environmental Management. 300:113739. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113739.
  5. He,W.; He, P.; Jiang, R.; Yang, J.; Drury, C.F.; Smith,W.N.; Grant, B.B.; Zhou,W. Soil Organic Carbon Changes or Croplands across China from 1991 to 2012. Agronomy 2021, 11, 1433. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071433
  6. Myra Martel, Aaron Glenn, Henry Wilson, Serban Danielescu, Roland Kroebel, Ward Smith, Brian McConkey, Geoffrey Guest, Henry Janzen. 2020. A parsimonious water budget model for Canadian agricultural conditions Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies. 100846 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejrh.2021.100846
  7. Farina R, Sándor R, Abdalla M. Ensemble modelling, uncertainty and robust predictions of organic carbon in long-term bare-fallow soils. Glob Change Biol. 2020;001:1-25 https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15441
  8. Rong Jiang, J.Y. Yang, C.F. Drury, Wentian He, W.N. Smith, B.B. Grant, Ping He, Wei Zhou. 2021. Assessing the impacts of diversified crop rotation systems on yields and nitrous oxide emissions in Canada using the DNDC model. Science of the Total Environment. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143433  
  9. Jing, Q., B. McConkey, B. Qian, W. Smith, B. Grant, J. Shang, J. Liu, P. Bindraban. 2021. Assessing water management practices to improve spring wheat yield in the Canadian Prairies. Water Resource Management. 244: 106591.
  10. Mencaroni M., Dal Ferro N., Furlanetto J., Longo M., Lazzaro B., Sartori L., Grant B.B., Smith W.N., Morari F. 2021. Identifying N fertilizer management strategies to reduce ammonia volatilization: towards a site-specific approach. Journal of Environmental Management. 277 (1): 111445
  11. Rennie, T.J., B.B. Grant, R.J. Gordon, W.N. Smith, A.C. VanderZaag. 2021. Regional climate influences manure temperature and methane emissions – a pan-Canadian modelling assessment. Science of The Total Environment.  750: 142278.
  12. De Laporte, A., Banger, K., Weersink, A., Wagner-Riddle, C., Grant B., Smith, W. 2021. Economic and environmental consequences of nitrogen application rates, timing and methods on Corn in Ontario. Agricultural Systems. 103018 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2020.103018
  13. Zhang, J., Ha, P., He, W., Smith, W.N., Grant, B.B., Ding, W., Jiang, R., Li, M. 2020. Exploring management strategies to improve yield and mitigate nitrate leaching in a typical field radish system in northern China using the DNDC model. Journal of Environmental Management.  290:112640  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112640


  1. Nilsson, J., Tidåker, P., Sundberg, C., Henryson, K., Grant, B. Smith, W., Hansson, P. 2020. Assessing the climate and eutrophication impacts of grass cultivation at five sites in Sweden, Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, DOI: 10.1080/09064710.2020.1822436
  2. Falconnier et al. 2020. Modeling of climate change impacts on maize yields under low-nitrogen conditions in sub-Saharan Africa. Glob Change Biol. 220;26:5942-5964. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15261
  3. Giltrap, D., J. Yeluripati, P. Smith, N. Fitton, W. Smith., B. Grant, C. Dorich, J. Deng, C.F.E. Topp, M. Abdalla, L.L. Liáng. 2020. Summary of modelling approaches in the Global Research Alliance N2O chamber methodology. Journal of Environmental Quality. doi.org/10.1002/jeq2.20119 
  4. Jiang, Q., Z. Qi, C.A. Madramootoo, W. Smith, N.A. Abbasi, T. Zhang. 2020. Comparison of RZWQM2 and DNDC model in simulating greenhouse gas emission, crop yield and subsurface drainage. Transactions of the ASABE. 63(4): 771-787. doi: 10.13031/trans.13668
  5. Kløverpris, J.H., C.N. Scheel, J. Schmidt, B. Grant, W. Smith, M.J. Bentham. 2020. Assessing life cycle impacts from changes in agricultural practices of crop production. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. doi.org/10.1007/s11367-020-01767-z
  6. S.J. Del Grosso, W. Smith, D. Kraus, R.S. Massad, I. Vogeler, K. Fuchs. 2020. Approaches and concepts of modelling denitrification: increased process understanding using observational data can reduce uncertainties. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.  47:37-45
  7. Smith, W., B. Grant, Z. Qi, W. He, B. Qian, Q. Jing, A. VanderZaag, C.F. Drury, M. St Luce, and Claudia Wagner-Riddlee. 2020. Towards an improved methodology for modelling climate change impacts on cropping systems in cool climates.  Sci. Total Environ. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138845
  8. Qian, B., Q. Jing, W. Smith, B. Grant, A.J. Cannon, X. Zhang. 2020. Quantifying the uncertainty introduced by internal climate variability in projections of Canadian crop production. Environmental Research Letters. 15:7 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab88fc
  9. Sándor, R., F. Ehrhardt, P. Grace, Sylvie Recous, Pete Smith, Val Snow, Jean-François Soussana, Bruno Basso et al (includes E. Pattey, W. Smith, B. Grant). 2020. Ensemble modelling of carbon fluxes in grasslands and croplands. Field Crops Research. 252: 107791.
  10. Banger, K., C. Wagner-Riddle, B.B. Grant, W.N. Smith, C. Drury, and Yang, J. 2020. Nitrogen fertilizer best management practices combined with rate adjustment have potential to achieve provincial-scale nitrous oxide reduction in Ontario corn production. Sci. Total Environ. 722(20): 137851 doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137851
  11. He, W., B. Dutta, B.B. Grant, M.H. Chantigny, D. Hunt, S. Bittman, M. Tenuta, D. Worth, A. VanderZaag, R.L. Desjardins, W.N. Smith. 2020.  Assessing the effects of manure application rate and timing on nitrous oxide emissions from managed grasslands under contrasting climate in Canada. Sci. Total Environ. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135374
  12. Cluett, J., A.C. VanderZaag, T. Rennie, W. Smith, R. Gordon. 2020. Surface covers affect liquid manure temperature, albedo, and evaporation. Transactions of the ASABE. 63(1): 199-210. doi: 10.13031/trans.13559
  13. Nasielski, J., B. Grant, W. Smith, C. Niemeyera, K. Janoviceka, B. Deen. 2020. Effect of nitrogen source, placement and timing on the environmental performance of economically optimum nitrogen rates in maize. Field Crops Research. doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2019.107686
  14. Jiang, Q., Z. Qi, L. Xue, M. Bukovsky, C.A. Madramootoo, W. Smith. 2020. Assessing climate change impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, N losses in drainage and crop production in a subsurface drained field. Sci. Total Environ.  DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135969
  15. Jing, Q., B. Qian, G. Bélanger, A. VanderZaag, G. Jégo, W. Smith, B. Grant, J. Shang, J. Liu, W. He, K.J. Boote, G. Hoogenboom. 2020. Simulating Alfalfa Regrowth and Biomass in Eastern Canada Using the CSM-CROPGRO-Perennial Forage Model. European Journal of Agronomy 113:125971. doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2019.125971
  16. Smith, W., B. Grant, Z. Qi, W. He, A. VanderZaag, C.F. Drury, and M. Helmers. 2020. Development of the DNDC model to improve soil hydrology and incorporate mechanistic tile drainage: A comparative analysis with RZWQM2. Environmental Modelling Software 123:104577. doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2019.104577

Education and awards

  • PhD, Bioresource Engineering (McGill, 2020)
  • MSc, Agricultural Engineering (McGill, 1991)
  • BSc, Agricultural Engineering (McGill, 1988)
  • 2020 Graduate Thesis Award (PhD) from The Canadian Society for Bioengineering for a thesis entitled "Development of hydrologic processes in the DNDC model to explore beneficial management for reducing nutrient losses from cropping systems"
  • Norbert Gerbier-Mumm International Award as lead author for a research paper entitled "The net flux of carbon from agricultural soils in Canada 1970-2010" 
  • Science Award for Leaders in Sustainable Development in recognition of advancing science for Canada (AAFC)
  • Award for Team Excellence for outstanding contribution to research (AAFC)
  • Outstanding Contribution to Reviewing award from Elsevier

International experience and/or work

  • 2020-2023 Chair of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Service Commission (SERCOM) Expert Team on Agromet Sciences and member of the Standing Committee on Services for Agriculture.  
  • 2018- 2020, Lead of WMO expert team, Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) on Climate and Agricultural Modelling for Sustainable Agriculture
  • 2013-current, Collaborating in Global Research Alliance (GRA) C&N crosscutting team
  • 2017-current, Collaborating in several activities under the scope of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) 
  • 2016-2020, Invited expert for international workshops and guideline/protocol development, such as the Global Research Alliance guideline on modelling and the OECD funded workshop on “Climate change, reactive nitrogen, food security and sustainable agriculture”.
  • 2016-2018, Lead of WMO task team on the effects of climate change and variability on agricultural sustainability
  • 2012-2016, Partnered for Canada in the global Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI).
  • 2011-2015, Lead of WMO expert team on the User Response to Climate Variability and Climate Change: Adaptation to Changing Climate at the Regional Level
  • 2006-2010, Member of WMO expert team on Impacts of Climate Change/Variability and Natural Disasters on Agriculture

Key publications

  1. Couëdel, A., Falconnier, G. N., Adam, M., Cardinael, R., Boote, K., Justes, E., Ruane, A., Smith, W., Whitbread, A., and Corbeels, M. and the co-authors: Soil-crop long-term feedback matters to assess climate change impact on maize yield in Sub-Saharan Africa, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-9930, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu24-9930, 2024.

    2024 - View publication details

  2. World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Mills, G., Smith, W.N., Dentener, F., Pattey, E., Tarasova, O., Hayes, F., Ehlert, K., Grey, S., Baldeon, S., Stefanski, R. 2023. The Impacts of Tropospheric Ozone Pollution on Crop Yield: Mechanisms, Quantification and Options for Mitigation. WMO-No. 1341. https://library.wmo.int/idurl/4/68654

    2023 - View publication details

  3. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Mills, G., Smith, W.N., Dentener, F., Pattey, E., Tarasova, O., Hayes, F., Ehlert, K., Grey, S., Baldeon, S., Stefanski, R. . 2023. The Impacts of Particulate Matter on Crop Yield: Mechanisms, Quantification and Options for Mitigation. WMO-No. 1340. https://library.wmo.int/idurl/4/68653

    2023 - View publication details

  4. Kang, J., Earl, H. J., Hooker, D., Smith, W., & Nasielski, J. (2023) Improvement of Crop Heat Unit By Accounting for Physiological Mechanisms [Abstract]. ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO. https://scisoc.confex.com/scisoc/2023am/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/152161

    2023 - View publication details

  5. Smith, W., Grant, B., Jing, Q., Qian, B., Jégo, G., Crépeau, M. 2023. Impacts of climate change on soybean yields and potential expansion in Canada. Modeling the Future of Food, 9th Global Workshop of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project, June 26th-30th, 2023 Columbia University, New York, NY

    2023 - View publication details

  6. Hung, C., VanderZaag, A., Smith, W., Grant, B. 2023. Canada's Progress in Understanding N2O and other GHGs Emissions from Manure-amended Soils. 2023 CSSS Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Soil Science, June 26-29, 2023, TRURO, NOVA SCOTIA

    2023 - View publication details

  7. Mariely Lopes dos Santos, Kritika Kothari, Rafael Battisti , Kenneth J. Boote , Sotirios V. Archontoulis , Adriana Confalone , Julie Constantin , Santiago V. Cuadra , Philippe Debaeke , Babacar Faye , Brian Grant , Gerrit Hoogenboom , Qi Jing , Michael van der Laan , Hanna Poffenbarger , Fernando Antônio Macena da Silva , Alireza Nehbandani , Claas Nendel , Larry C. Purcell , Budong Qian , Alex C. Ruane , Céline Schoving , Ward Smith , Afshin Soltani , Amit Srivastava , Montserrat Salmeron (2023) Variability of soybean models for simulation of crop nitrogen dynamics under changing CO 2 , temperature, water, and nitrogen fertilization. 9th Global Workshop of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project New York 2023/06/26 - 2023/06/30.

    2023 - View publication details

  8. VanderZaag, A., Le Riche, E., Balde, H., Kalil, S., Ouellet, V., Charbonneau, E., Coates, T., Wright, T., Luimes, P., Gordon, R., Smith, W., Qian, B. In-barn and outdoor THI conditions in Canadian dairy barns in current and future climates. ADSA Annual Meeting Ottawa, June 25, 2023. (Presentation)

    2023 - View publication details

  9. Budong Qian, Ward Smith, Qi Jing, Yong Min Kim, Guillaume Jégo, Brian Grant, Scott Duguid, Ken Hester, Alison Nelson (2023) Projected future climate conditions for growing soybeans in Canada. Poster Presentation. The World Soybean Research Conference 11, June 18-23, 2023. Vienna, Austria.

    2023 - View publication details

  10. VanderZaag, A., Rennie, T., Grant, B., smith, W., Balde, H., Gordon, R. Effects of weather and climate on methane emissions from manure storages. CSAFM-CGU Banff, May 8, 2023. (Presentation)

    2023 - View publication details

  11. Budong Qian, Qi Jing, Guillaume Jégo, Gilles Bélanger, Ward Smith, Andy VanderZaag, Jiali Shang, Jiangui Liu, Brian Grant, Marianne Crépeau.2023. Warmer future climate in Canada – implications for plant hardiness and winter survival of perennial forage crops. Canadian Geophysical Union 2023 Annual Meeting, May 07-10, 2023, Banff, Alberta, Canada

    2023 - View publication details

  12. VanderZaag, A., Qian, B., Smith, w., Balde, H., Gordon, R. Indicators of Potential Heat Stress in Livestock Barns in Current and Future Climates. Dairy Climate Banff, May 2023. (Poster)

    2023 - View publication details

  13. Ward Smith and Brian Grant. 2023. Using models to help ensure farmers receive credits
    for sustainable management. Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario Conference, Presentation and panellist. London, Ontario, February 15-16, 2023.

    2023 - View publication details

  14. Ward Smith, Budong Qian, Brian Grant, Qi Jing, Guillaume Jego, Marianne Crepeau (2022) How may a changing climate impact cropping systems in Canada? Invited Speaker, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society - Ottawa Executive Seminar, (Virtual) Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. October 20, 2022

    2022 - View publication details

  15. Ward Smith, Budong Qian, Brian Grant, Qi Jing, Guillaume Jego, Marianne Crepeau (2022) Cropping system resiliency under a changing climate in Canada. Invited Speaker, STB National Seminar Series, (Virtual) Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. September 21, 2022

    2022 - View publication details

  16. Chih-Yu Hung, Kristina Mjöfors, Timothy Rennie, Ward Smith, Brian Grant, Andrew VanderZaag. 2022. Modelling shadow and cover effects on manure temperature. 2022 Joint Canadian Society of Soil Science (CSSS) Annual Meeting-Alberta Soil Science Workshop (ASSW), Edmonton, Alberta. May 23-27, 2022. https://csss-assw2022.ca/CSSS_ASSW_2022_Proceedings.pdf

    2022 - View publication details

  17. Budong Qian, Ward Smith, Yong Min Kim, Qi Jing, Brian Grant, Guillaume Jego, Scott Duguid, Ken Hester, Alison Nelson (2022) What will projected near-term climate mean for soybeans in Canada? Invited Keynote Speaker, Northern Soybean Summit, (Virtual) Toronto, Ontario, Canada. January 25, 2022..

    2022 - View publication details

  18. Ward Smith, Brian Grant, Ray Desjardins, Andrew VanderZaag, Craig Drury, Claudia Wagner-Riddle, Elizabeth Pattey, Budong Qian, Mervin St. Luce, Brian McConkey, Wentian He, Rong Jiang. 2021. Canada DNDC, a full farm agroecosystem model for identifying sustainable and resilient agricultural management. Workshop on Soil Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation Modeling in Agriculture. AAFC, Agricultural Climate Solutions. Nov. 3-4, 2021.

    2021 - View publication details

  19. Jing, Q., McConkey, B., Qian, B., Smith, W., Grant, B., Shang, J., Liu, J., Bindraban, P., Luce, M.S. (2021). Assessing water management effects on spring wheat yield in the Canadian Prairies using DSSAT wheat models. Agricultural Water Management, [online] 244 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2020.106591

    2021 - View publication details

  20. Smith, W., Grant, B., Qi, Z., He, W., Qian, B., Jing, Q., VanderZaag, A., Drury, C.F., St. Luce, M., Wagner-Riddle, C. (2020). Towards an improved methodology for modelling climate change impacts on cropping systems in cool climates. Science of the Total Environment, [online] 728 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138845

    2020 - View publication details

Research facility

960 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, ON K1A 0C6


Editor of Agronomy Journal (2020-2022)

Member of Canadian Society of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology (2016-current)

Member of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) (2016-2019)