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TIA's agricultural systems modelling research aims to improve the profitability and sustainability of livestock and cropping systems, with benefits for industry locally, nationally and globally.

Our agricultural systems modelling research is aimed at providing practical solutions to complex challenges facing livestock and cropping systems in Tasmania and around the world.

We have extensive networks with farmers and industry advisers in agricultural sectors including dairy, beef, sheep, horticultural crops and grains. We strive to involve stakeholders in our research to ensure that projects are informed by industry priorities, are adopted by end-users and have demonstrable impact.

A key focus is modelling the impacts of climate change and supporting farmers to make informed on-farm management decisions to adapt to future climate conditions and increasing climate variability. TIA's Agricultural Systems Modelling Team has been working in this space for approximately 15 years and we have significant experience, expertise, and networks to help generate outcomes for industry.

We are currently leading a project (2020-2023) funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to investigate future integrated grazing system designs to help achieve MLA's industry driven goal for the Australian red meat sector to be carbon neutral by 2030. The project has a specific focus on climate change with emphasis on increasing frequencies of extreme climate events.

Ag Systems Modelling

Industry aligned

We work directly with industry, local, state and federal governments, and Rural Research and Development Corporations. Our research is aligned with key agricultural policies and industry initiatives, including:

  • The Tasmanian Government’s AgriVision 2050, which sets a target for growing the farm gate value of agriculture in Tasmania to $10 billion per year by 2050.
  • Meat and Livestock Australia's CN30 initiative for the Australian red meat industry to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The aim of the CN30 Initiative is to enable the Australian red meat industry to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
  • Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Kit Objectives and KPIs (e.g. improvement of yield and yield stability, optimisation of input costs and management of risk to maximise profit in the long-term).
  • Dairy Australia Limited Strategic Priorities on pre-farm gate production, including feedbase, advanced management systems, and land, water and carbon.
  • The Commonwealth’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).

Capabilities

- Climate change impacts and adaptation

- Impacts of extreme climatic events

- Greenhouse gas emissions mitigation

- Animal welfare and biosecurity

- Irrigation management

- Triple bottom line analyses (economic, environmental and social)

- Decision-support tools, Apps and digital software

- Ag-tech, real-time sensing of information and smart algorithms

- Machine-learning and artificial intelligence

- Satellite imagery and remote sensing

Decision Support Tools

- Water Can Profit

- Water for Profit

A major program run from 2015-2018 to to ensure Tasmanian farmers are equipped with the right skills and information to increase profits and sustainability from their investment in water. Our researchers worked collaboratively with farmers to develop and refine of user-friendly online tools to aid decision making for selecting plant varieties, fertilisers, irrigation scheduling, rotations, sowing and weeding.

- CropARM (crop yield predictions)

CropARM is a free online agricultural risk management tool available to Australian growers. The simulations use 115 years of climate records and the APSIM model to predict potential year-to-year variability in yields, temperature and crop growth. TIA researchers calibrated the model with data to make it applicable for Tasmanian growers. NB: TIA does not own or manage CropARM.

- Agricultural Production Systems SIMulator

To provide greater benefit for Tasmanian farmers, we have adapted the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) to Tasmanian conditions. This enables farmers to compare how different plant varieties, fertiliser application amounts, irrigation scheduling, and crop rotations perform with local soils and conditions in their specific region. APSIM is internationally recognised as a highly advanced platform for modelling and simulation of agricultural systems. NB: TIA does not own or manage the APSIM platform.

Dr Matt Harrison provides an overview of how to use CropARM for wheat in Tasmania in this video.

- Dual purpose (DP) cropping decision-support tool

Dr Matthew Harrison led the development of this dual-purpose grazing crop tool, which shows how the yield of wheat and canola crops varies with alternative grazing durations and stocking rates of sheep or cattle. This information helps farmers make decisions about how their management options affect crop agronomy and potential economic returns.

- Pasture Predictor (pasture growth predictions)

TIA Associate Professor Richard Rawnsley led the development of this free online tool which aims to support the productivity, efficiency and continuing growth of Tasmania's grazing industry. By providing 30-day forecasts for the growth of pasture and longer term trends for up to 90 days, we aim to help farmers make better decisions in managing their herds, production and costs.

- AskBill (sheep wellbeing and productivity)

TIA researchers Dr Brian Horton and Dr Ross Corkrey contributed to a national project to develop a web-based program to help sheep graziers accurately predict sheep wellbeing and productivity. Our researchers analysed large data sets relating to risk factors for sheep health and developed models to predict situations where sheep wellbeing is likely to be adversely affected, including a flystrike model and a cold-and-heat model.

Sheep

Researchers

Research students

  • Franco Bilotto (PhD): 'The nexus between profitability, productivity, greenhouse gas emissions and consumer perceptions of livestock businesses under an increasingly variable climate'
  • Ranju Chapagain (PhD): 'Estimating Uncertainty in Agricultural Model Scaling'
  • Ke Liu (PhD): 'Examining the physiological basis of waterlogging in a crop modelling framework'
  • Albert Meluke (PhD): 'Optimising economic returns on irrigated grain crops under current and future climates'
  • Francesco Tacconi (PhD): 'The Benefits and Limits of Diversity in Agricultural Systems'
  • Demlie Zelelew (PhD): 'Quantifying the Economic and Ecosystem Services of Agriculture: a spatial-statistical approach based on regional soil water flux predictions'

Work with us

We welcome opportunities to work with industry partners and collaborators.

Please contact Dr Matt Harrison, TIA Agricultural Systems Modelling Group Leader

Email: matthew.harrison@utas.edu.au