About Macro


General Information

MACRO is a physically-based one-dimensional numerical model of water flow and reactive solute transport in field soils (Jarvis, 1994).

Responsibility for model: Nick Jarvis (SLU, CKB)
Technical support: Fredrik Stenemo (

Affiliation : SWECO, Sweden.
MACRO web site :

Version 5.2 of the MACRO model is used for the FOCUS scenarios in the FOCUS_MACRO 5.5.3 and FOCUS_MACRO 5.5.4 packages. Earlier FOCUS_MACRO packages used Version 4.3 of the MACRO model.

Note: FOCUS materials related to MACRO cannot be downloaded from the SLU MACRO homepage.

Short Model Description

The model calculates coupled unsaturated-saturated water flow in cropped soil, including the location and extent of perched water tables, and can also deal with saturated flow to field drainage systems. The model accounts for macropore flow, with the soil porosity divided into two flow systems or domains (macropores and micropores) each characterized by a flow rate and solute concentration. Richards' equation and the convection-dispersion equation are used to model soil water flow and solute transport in the soil micropores, while a simplified capacitance type-approach is used to calculate fluxes in the macropores. Exchange between the flow domains is calculated using approximate, physically-based, expressions based on an effective aggregate half-width. Additional model assumptions include first-order kinetics for degradation in each of four `pools' of pesticide in the soil (micro- and macropores, solid/liquid phases), together with an instantaneous sorption equilibrium and a Freundlich sorption isotherm in each pore domain.

Role and Place in FOCUS scenarios calculation

The MACRO model is used for one of the FOCUS groundwater scenarios (Chateaudun) and six of the ten FOCUS surface water scenarios (for calculating drainage inputs).

A shell program in Visual Basic, linked to Microsoft Access databases containing all the required parameter inputs was written specially for the FOCUS applications. This program and supporting materials and documentation can be downloaded from this FOCUS site.

Current use outside FOCUS

In various applications as can be seen from the list of publications in the next section.

Excerpt of existing model documentation

  • Jarvis, N.J., Bergström, L. and Dik, P.E. 1991. Modelling water and solute movement in macroporous soil. II. Chloride leaching under non-steady flow. Journal of Soil Science 42, 71-81.
  • Jarvis, N.J., Bergström, L. & Stenström, J. 1991. A model to predict pesticide transport in macroporous field soils. In : Proceedings of the National Symposium on Preferential Flow, (eds. T.J. Gish and A. Shirmohammadi), Dec. 1991, Chicago, IL, ASAE St. Joseph, MI, 308-317.
  • Andreu, L., Moreno, F., Jarvis, N.J. & Vachaud, G. 1994. Application of the model MACRO to water movement and salt leaching in drained and irrigated marsh soils, Marismas, Spain. Agricultural Water Management, 25, 71-88.
  • Jarvis, N.J., Stähli, M., Bergström, L. & Johnsson, H. 1994. Simulation of dichlorprop and bentazon leaching in soils of contrasting texture using the MACRO model. Journal of Environmental Science & Health, A29(6), 1255-1277.
  • Saxena, R.K., Jarvis, N.J. & Bergström, L. 1994. Interpreting non-steady state tracer breakthrough experiments in sand and clay soils using a dual-porosity model. Journal of Hydrology, 162, 279-298.
  • Jarvis, N.J. 1995. Simulation of soil water dynamics and herbicide persistence in a silt loam soil using the MACRO model. Ecological Modelling, 81, 97-109.
  • Gottesbüren, B., Mittelstaedt, W., Führ, F. 1995. Comparison of different models to simulate the leaching behaviour of quimerac predictively. In : Proceedings of the BCPC Symposium `Pesticide movement to water' (eds. A. Walker, R. Allen, S.W. Bailey, A.M. Blair, C.D. Brown, P. Günther, C.R. Leake, P.H. Nicholls), Warwick, 155-160.
  • Jarvis, N.J., Larsson, M., Fogg, P., Carter, A.D. 1995. Validation of the dual-porosity model MACRO for assessing pesticide fate and mobility in soil. In : Proceedings of the BCPC Symposium `Pesticide movement to water' (eds. A. Walker, R. Allen, S.W. Bailey, A.M. Blair, C.D. Brown, P. Günther, C.R. Leake, P.H. Nicholls), Warwick, 161-170.
  • Saxena, R.K. & Jarvis, N.J. 1995. Measurements and modelling of tracer transport in a sandy soil. Water, Air & Soil Pollution, 79, 409-424.
  • Andreu, L., Jarvis, N.J., Moreno, F. & Vachaud, G. 1996. Simulating the impact of irrigation management on the water and salt balance in drained marsh soils (Marismas, Spain). Soil Use and Management, 12, 109-116.
  • Bergstrom, L. 1996. Model predictions and field measurements of chlorsulfuron leaching under non-steady-state flow conditions. Pesticide Science, 48, 37-45.
  • Jabro, J.D., Jemison, J..M., Fox, R.H. & Fritton, D.D. 1994. Predicting bromide leaching under field conditions using SLIM and MACRO. Soil Science, 157, 215-223.
  • Besien, T.J., Jarvis, N.J., Williams, R.J. 1997. Simulation of water movement and isoproturon behaviour in a heavy clay soil using the MACRO model. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 1, 835-844.
  • Bourgault de Coudray, P.L., Williamson, D.R. & Scott, W.D. 1997. Prediction of chloride leaching from a non-irrigated, de-watered saline soil using the MACRO model. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 1, 845-851.
  • Thorsen, M., Jørgensen, P., Felding, G., Jacobsen, O.H., Spliid, N. & Refsgaard, J. 1998. Evaluation of a stepwise procedure for comparative validation of pesticide leaching models. Journal of Environmental Quality, 27, 1183-1193.
  • Villholth, K.G. & Jensen, K.H. 1998. Flow and transport processes in a macroporous subsurface-drained glacial till soil. II. Model analysis. Journal of Hydrology, 207, 121-135.
  • Alaoui, A.M. 1998. Transferts d’eau et de substances (bromures, chlorures et bactériophages) dans des milieux non saturés à porosité bimodale. PhD thesis, Dept. Geography, University of Bern, 148 pp.
  • Brown C.D., Marshall, V., Deas, A., Carter, A.D., Arnold, D. & Jones, R.L. 1999. Investigation into the effect of tillage on solute movement to drains through a heavy clay soil. II. Interpretation using a radio-scanning technique, dye tracing and modelling. Soil Use and Management, 15, 94-100.
  • Larsson, M.H. & Jarvis, N.J. 1999. Evaluation of a dual-porosity model to predict field-scale solute transport in a macroporous clay soil. Journal of Hydrology, 215, 153-171.
  • Larsson, M.H., Jarvis, N.J., Torstensson, G. & Kasteel, R. 1999. Quantifying the impact of preferential flow on solute transport to tile drains in a sandy field soil. Journal of Hydrology, 215, 116-134.
  • Larsson, M.H. & Jarvis, N.J. 1999. A dual-porosity model to quantify macropore flow effects on nitrate leaching. Journal of Environmental Quality, 28, 1298-1307.
  • Brown, C.D., Beulke, S. & Dubus, I. 1999. Simulating pesticide transport via preferential flow: a current perspective. In: Proc. XI Symposium on Pesticide Chemistry, Human and Environmental exposure to xenobiotics (eds. A.A.M. del Re, Brown, C., Capri, E., Errera, G., Evans, S.P. & Trevisan, M.), September 1999, Cremona, Italy, 73-82.
  • Jene, B., Erzgraeber, B., Feyerabend, M., Fent, G. & Kubiak, R. 1999. Comparison of bromide and benazolin transport in the undisturbed field with simulations by the computer models PELMO and MACRO. In: Proc. XI Symposium on Pesticide Chemistry, Human and Environmental exposure to xenobiotics (eds. A.A.M. del Re, Brown, C., Capri, E., Errera, G., Evans, S.P. & Trevisan, M.), September 1999, Cremona, Italy, 131-142.
  • Granitza, E., Jene, B., & Feyerabend, M., 1999. Isoproturon: simulation of a field experiment on a drained loamy soil using the MACRO model. In: Proc. XI Symposium on Pesticide Chemistry, Human and Environmental exposure to xenobiotics (eds. A.A.M. del Re, Brown, C., Capri, E., Errera, G., Evans, S.P. & Trevisan, M.), September 1999, Cremona, Italy, 321-324.
  • Jarvis, N.J., Villholth, K.G. & Ulén, B. 1999. Modelling particle mobilization and leaching in macroporous soil. European Journal of Soil Science, 50, 621-632.
  • Armstrong, A., Aden, K., Amraoui, N., Diekkrüger, B., Jarvis, N., Mouvet, C., Nicholls, P. & Wittwer, C. 2000. Comparison of pesticide-leaching models: results using the Brimstone Farm data set. Agricultural Water Management, 44, 85-104.
  • Jarvis, N.J., Brown, C.D. & Granitza, E. 2000. Sources of error in model predictions of pesticide leaching: a case study using the MACRO model. Agricultural Water Management, 44, 247-262.
  • Gottesbüren, B., Aden, K., Bärlund, I., Brown, C., Dust, M., Görlitz, G., Jarvis, N., Rekolainen, S. & Schäfer, H. 2000 Comparison of pesticide leaching models: results using the Weiherbach data set. Agricultural Water Management, 44, 153-181.
  • Villholth, K.G., Jarvis, N.J., Jacobsen, O.H. & de Jonge, H. 2000. Field investigations and modeling of particle-facilitated pesticide transport in macroporous soil. Journal of Environmental Quality, 29, 1298-1309.
  • Beulke, S., Brown, C.D. & Jarvis, N.J. 2000. MACRO: A preferential flow model to simulate pesticide leaching and movement to drains. In: Proc. of the ARW workshop ‘Modeling of environmental chemical exposure and risk’, Sofia, Bulgaria (October 1999), NATO publication series, in press.   

Download Macro


Latest Version : FOCUS_MACRO_5.5.4

Package FOCUS_MACRO_5_5_4 (12/Feb/2015, 1 MSI file, 7 MB)
Getting Started
Comments The Chateaudun scenario defined in this download package and shell generate tier 1 outputs that are in accordance with Sanco/13144/2010 versions 1 and 3 and Generic Guidance for Tier 1 FOCUSGround Water Assessments versions, 2.1 and 2.2.

1) (12/February/2015) There is a known bug that only affects users when they run MACRO outside the MACRO-FOCUS graphical user interface. When using the stand-alone tool that allows the user to generate m2t-files (M2T.EXE) from MACRO output files (e.g. MACRO001.bin) the file name of the MACRO output file has to be modified so that it is written in lower case. Usually, the MACRO output file names created by the MACRO model are written in upper case.
2) (24/August/2015) If the option for incorporated pesticides is selected (in SWASH), the value of the model parameter ZMIX (mixing depth) needs to be manually edited. Currently with the incorporated option, this parameter is set to 0.0001 mm but it needs to be changed to 0.000000001 mm. Until a new version of MACRO is released, the following workaround can be used:
-               define the calculation in SWASH using the FOCUS wizard
-               export macro inputs to batch & PAR & LOG files
-               edit the PAR files replacing the ZMIX value from 0.0001 mm to 0.000000001 mm
-               execute the calculation using the batch file
-               evaluate and create the M2T files (see note 1 of 12/February/2015 above regarding that lower case is needed for the file name)
-               proceed as normal with further calculations (TOXSWA)
3) Important Warning (14/August/2015) Should you run FOCUS_MACRO v 5.5.4 for FOCUSsw simulations and you use SWASH 3.1, you will need to set up separate SWASH projects for drainage and runoff scenarios. For the SWASH drainage projects created, users need to input the value 0.49 for the 'exponent for the effect of water content' parameter in the pesticide properties and pesticide metabolite properties input screens of the SWASH shell (transformation tab, Specifications on transformation in soil button). For the SWASH runoff projects created, users need to ensure the value 0.7 is input for this exponent in this screen of the SWASH shell. Detailed instructions for doing this can be obtained from ‘getting started’. Important, this ‘work around’ is not needed when you use SWASH 5.3 or newer. (Note advice on this issue was originally provided on 12/February/2015).

Package (04/June/2012, 3 files, 7 MB)
Getting Started
Comments The Chateaudun scenario defined in this download package and shell generate tier 1 outputs that are in accordance with Sanco/13144/2010 version 1, 604pp and Generic Guidance for Tier 1 FOCUSGround Water Assessments (version 2.0)
1) Important Note (8/August/2012) Three climate related data files Cnm6et.bin, Th_ifv_p.bin and Vr_irv_p.bin are missing from the download package. These missing files can be found here. After you have installed the MACRO 5.5.3 package on your computer, these three missing files need to be added to the :\swash\macro\bin folder on the drive where you installed the MACRO 5.5.3 package.
2) Important Warning (5/December 2012) Until a new FOCUS_MACRO package is released, FOCUS_MACRO v 5.5.3 users need to manually replace the value 0.7 with 0.49 for the 'exponent for moisture response' parameter in the 'pesticide properties' and 'pesticide metabolite properties' input screens of the MACRO shell, before executing MACRO runs.
3) Warning (8/August/2012) There is an error that can be generated when setting applications in MACROinFOCUS for groundwater simulations. When the annual application frequency is changed for a groundwater scenario, for example from every year to every third year, this change is not reflected in the parameterisation. The error occurs when changing the application frequency without modifying the applications themselves. To avoid the error, after you have changed the application frequency, go to "Define->Applications" and then click ok, to ensure the change is implemented in the subsequent simulations.
4) Warning (5/December/2012) When you run MACRO simulations for more than 1 metabolite, you need to be aware that for the second and consequent metabolite simulations, when you 'write TOXSWA file' to create the metabolite m2t file (TOXSWA input), the m2t file from the first metabolite that you ran will be overwritten. To avoid losing the earlier metabolite m2t file, it needs to be temporarily renamed manually, before you use the 'write TOXSWA file' button for your next metabolite.
5) Warning (19/February/2013) There is a bug in MACRO5.5.3. For incorporated pesticide, ZMIX should be set to zero, but it is incorrectly set to 0.1 mm. Until a new version is released with this corrected, the following workaround can be used. Go to the field 'ZMIX' in the table 'soil1' in the database FOCUS.mdb, and change the value to zero.

Package (11/June/2003, 6 files, 10 MB)
Test Results HTML, Word
Getting Started
Comments Warning (16/March/2004) :
The precipitation data file for irrigated bulb vegetables at D6 (TH_IBV_P.BIN) for MACRO SW is in error. The data for the 16 month assessment period (1986-1987) is correct, but the six-year warm-up period has the wrong rainfall data.

Warning (29/Oct/2003) :
The surface water sunflower scenario at D5 cannot be run with MACROinFOCUS because one of the parameter values is missing in the database. The user can easily fix this by opening the database 'crops.mdb' with Microsoft Access (do not upgrade the database if you are given the option to do so), open the table 'crop' and find the field 'fawc', which is currently empty. Write in the value 0.35.    


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