PhD Student Profile

Peter Weir

Federation University Australia

The aim of this PhD project is to enable the high-resolution estimation and forecasting of plant available water, within and across individual paddocks at multiple depths in the soil profile.

The project will use several soil moisture sensor networks, integrated with a variety of available data sets, including remotely sensed imagery, soil data, climate and landscape models, and modelling using data assimilation with data-model fusion. The research objectives are to model reliable and fit-for-purpose estimations of the spatio-temporal variability of soil moisture at the sub-paddock scale, and to forecast soil moisture content at paddock level with sufficient accuracy to improve agricultural management.

PhD Title: “In-paddock variability of plant available water.”

PhD start date: March 2020

Supervisors: Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus, Federation University, Dr. Nathan Robinson, Federation University, Associate Professor Peter Vamplew, Federation University.

What interested you about this research?
Earlier research and development of capacitance soil moisture sensor systems and their implementation for soil moisture management in irrigated horticulture.

What do you love about soil?
Its complexity – encompassing physical, chemical, and biological properties all dependant on each other. It is a fundamental component of the Earth’s life cycle.

What do you love about your PhD?
The challenge of complex problem-solving using data analytics methodologies, and the opportunity to contribute to the adoption of Digital Agriculture.

How will your PhD help to make a difference for farmers?
Differentiation between ‘what there is to know’ and ‘what we need to know’. Providing localised prescriptive information for a farmer about their own paddock, through evaluation of risk and forecasting. This will assist farmers with improved on-farm management decision making by deploying the research outputs and outcomes into decision support systems that consider profit-based, not yield-based, outcomes.

What do you want to do when you finish your PhD?
Continue contributing to Digital Agriculture research and its adoption by the farming community.