Skip to content

Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems

The Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems conducts internationally leading research to deliver practical solutions for the sustainable management of complex agricultural enterprises and agroecosystems.

The Centre addresses key agricultural and environmental challenges at local, national and global scales, with the goal of delivering multifunctional landscapes that conserve and sustain our natural resources, whilst providing enhanced productivity.  

Centre researchers assist decision-makers to diagnose system constraints and make informed decisions that improve productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability; address problems and capitalise on opportunities; and analyse, develop and implement policies, practices and designs.

Themes and Projects

Our agricultural systems modelling research aims facilitate practice change on farm, by providing innovative decision support systems and apps helping farmers make informed decisions that relate to their production practices, to improve their profitability and social and environmental sustainability.

Title: Diagnosis frameworks for multiple and complex soil constraints 

This project will develop and validate a diagnostic framework that is capable of diagnosing soil constraints from the data that producers already have access to (e.g. crop yields, surface soil tests) in combination with information in the public domain (e.g. national soil grid, Landsat imagery).

Title: Customising ARMonline to make dry-land grain growers more productive, profitable and adaptive to drought creating environmental, economic and social resilience. 

Leader: Associate Professor Keith Pembleton 
Project Team: Uwe Grewer | Roy Anderson 
Project Partners: Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 
Funding Body: Future Drought Fund 

This project combines an advanced but easy-to-use platform of crop and bioeconomic analysis ( with game-based learning approaches to improve business, social and environment resilience to drought.

Title: Modelling based studies for sesame adoption in Australian farming system 

Leader: Associate Professor Keith Pembleton 
Project Partners: Central Qld University 
Funding Body: AgriFutures 

This project aims to provide this information in using a modelling-based framework in scaling localised research outputs and targeting the identified options and management practices to site specific environmental of production and of farming practices.

Title: Knowledge-guided machine learning optimisation of soil constraint management 

Leader: Dr Chloe Lai 
Project Team: Associate Professor Keith Pembleton | Dr Francis Gacenga 
Project Partners: Riverine Plains Incorporated | Burdekin Productivity Services Ltd | West Midlands Group | Mallee Sustainable Farming  
Funding Body: Soil CRC 
This project aims to find the best ways to manage multiple soil constraints such as sodicity, acidity, and salinity to help farmers make informed soil management decisions to maximise productivity and profitability.

Title: Trialling customisation of a water quality model in an ungauged catchment for DIN. 

Leader: Cherie O’Sullivan  
Project Partners: Mary River Catchment Coordination Association Inc  
Funding Body: Department of Environment and Science  
This project will develop data and approaches to ensure water models are relevant, effective and efficient and capitalise on technological developments and consider non-traditional information sources.

Our sustainable agroecosystems research aims to enhance the productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability of agricultural enterprises and agroecosystems. To achieve this our work spans a range of disciplines and approaches including soil science, environmental science, ecology and agrimetrics. 

Title: The impacts of cultural burning on pest weeds, plants and fungal communities. 

Leader: Dr Kathryn Reardon-Smith  
Project Team: Dr Jarrod Kath | Dr Christina Birnbaum | Associate Professor John Dearnaley  
Funding Body: Balonne Shire Council 
The project aims to improve understanding of vegetation and soil fungal community responses to cultural burning in the Balonne Shire Council area. 

Title: Soil-moisture profile dynamics affected by cover crop: Effect of changes in soil biology and structure. 

Leader: Dr Craig Lobsey  
Project Team: Hanlu Zhang  
Project Partners: Southern Cross University | NSW Department of Primary Industries | Farmer groups across northern and southern region 
Funding Body: Soil CRC 

This project is using experimental results of cover crop projects field trials combined with modelling and artificial intelligences approaches to develop methodologies to predict sub-soil moisture across soil profiles.

Title: ‘Smart’ soil sensors 

Leader: Roy Anderson  
Project Partners: University of Tasmania | Federation University Australia 
Funding Body: Soil CRC 

This project will develop the next generation of field-based sensors that can measure, map, interpret, and communicate sensor data using new approaches that meet growers need for information to make on-farm decisions.

Title: Novel sensor technology to measure and map soil nutrients 

This project aims to develop the sensor technology that will provide detailed, cost effective and timely information to land managers on soil nutrient status and dynamics.

Title: Determining the potential of certification, verification and related concepts for rewarding soil stewardship 

Leader: Professor Tek Maraseni  
Project Partners: Charles Sturt University | Southern Cross University | University of Tasmania | Birchip Cropping Group  
Funding Body: Soil CRC 
This project will investigate the veracity of using certification, verification or related schemes for supporting the developing of markets for rewarding good soil stewardship practices.

Title: CULAS - Assessing economic feasibility and benefits of adopting high-grade organic fertilizers recovered from waste streams 

This project will assess economic feasibility of using nutrient-enriched organic fertilisers derived from waste materials (e.g. poultry/pig manure, dairy farm wastes, composts, mulches, biochar) in broadacre/other cropping systems in selected case study areas of NSW. 

Our wildlife management research aims to advance the management of wildlife in ways that reduce human-wildlife conflict and improve agricultural and environmental sustainability. 

Title: Performance of Ceres Tags on wild and domestic animals 
Leader: Dr Benjamin Allen 
Project Team: Various national and international collaborators 
Project Partners: Ceres Tag Pty Ltd
This project is testing the performance of new animal tracking technologies in a variety of environmental contexts on a variety of species including cats, foxes, dingoes, dogs, and koalas in Australia, and other species around the world. 

Title: Monitoring and management of Yakka Skinks and Squatter Pigeons in the Galilee Basin 

Leader: Dr Benjamin Allen 
Project Team: Associate Professor Peter Murray | Stephen Peck | Gary Young | Amy Provost 
Funding Body: The Galilee Conservation & Research Fund 

This project is investigating the effects of fire, grazing, and feral animal control on Yakka Skinks and Squatter Pigeons. It incorporates camera trapping and acoustic recorders for pigeons, and trapping and genetics for skinks.


Title: Diet and movement of koalas on the Darling Downs 
Leader: Damber Bista 
Project Team: Dr Benjamin Allen| Associate Professor Peter Murray | Chloe Miller | Dr Rosie Booth | Associate Professor Greg Baxter 
Funding Body: ARTC Inland Rail  

This project is assessing the diet of koalas through faecal sample metabarcoding, and the availability of these trees in the landscape.

Title: Evaluation of management strategies to reduce the risk of wild dogs to koalas 

Leader: Dr Benjamin Allen 
Project Team: Associate Professor Peter Murray | Damber Bista | Chloe Miller 
Funding Body: ARTC Inland Rail 

This project is assessing interactions between wild dogs and koalas fitted with tracking devices.

Title: The ecology and conservation of threatened Brigalow Belt reptiles 

Leader: Jon-Paul Emery 

This project is about experimental development of improved survey techniques for cryptic snakes and lizards, and evaluation of artificial habitat structures for threatened reptiles, including collared delma, five-clawed worm skink, Dunmall’s snake and others.