Digital Agriculture and Irrigation data science

Summary

A research opportunity is available for an outstanding PhD scholar in the area of cotton research and development. 
Through the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, the University of Sydney will fund a PhD led projects
Water is widely accepted as the most limiting factor in Australian cotton production systems. The Australian cotton industry is one of the most advanced agricultural industries in terms of its use of irrigation-scheduling tools. Precision agriculture and yield maps commonly highlight large yield variations in cotton fields. Whilst the variable application of nutrients, herbicides has come a long way the variable application of water remains more challenging. This project will use some emerging soil, water, plant monitoring technologies that have become cheaper, better, smaller and more robust in the recent digital technology advances. It will also combine advances in data analysis, spatial mapping of cotton fields and remote sensing technologies using UAVs and satellite imagery to improve irrigation management. 
For more information contact A/Prof Guy Roth.

Supervisor(s)

Associate Professor Guy Roth

Research Location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program Type

PHD

Synopsis

Water is critical to the cotton industry to maximise crop yields and fibre quality. Uncertainty about the availability of irrigation water is widely accepted as the most limiting factor in Australian cotton- production systems. Farmers must continue to strive to improve water-use efficiency and productivity. Roth et al (2013) reviewed all the irrigation research conducted in Australia. In the last two years the cost of sensors has dropped significantly and there are also many new sensors on the market. Digital on farm communications have also improved, and the Precision 2 Decision projects have identified opportunities. Likewise, the Smarter Irrigation for Profit project has developed many advances in automation and irrigation systems. 
The Australian cotton industry is one of the most advanced agricultural industries in terms of its use of irrigation-scheduling tools. The cotton industry had the highest use of soil moisture monitoring probes of any agricultural industry in Australia, around 80%. The use of plant-based sensing tools remains low < 5%. However, capacitance probes work well in irrigated crops in semi irrigated and dryland crops they often fail because of the cracking nature of vertisol soils. A more robust technology for assessing crop water demand is needed for these semi irrigated and dryland crops. The other critical issue is increasing crop yield by better managing the spatial variation within and between fields. Precision agriculture and yield maps commonly highlight large yield variations in cotton fields. Whilst the variable application of nutrients, herbicides has come a long way the variable application of water remains more challenging. This project will use some emerging soil, water, plant monitoring technologies that have become cheaper, better, smaller and more robust in the recent digital technology advances. It will also combine advances in data analysis, spatial mapping of cotton fields and remote sensing technologies using UAVs and satellite imagery to improve irrigation management. An important aim of the project is to increase human capacity in these disciplines by training postgraduate student. The student will learn both soil, plant and water management skills as well digital agriculture technologies. They will have the opportunity to collaborate with CSIRO and industry stakeholders.

Additional Information

The PhD candidate can be based at The University of Sydney’s Narrabri or Sydney campus, Australian Cotton Research Institute (CSIRO), Narrabri or a combination of these sites. Having data skills in R and/or Python are desirable or a willingness to learn these skills. Australian driver’s license will be required. The additional supervisor for this project is Dr Hizbullah Jamali (CSIRO).  
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include: 

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.) 
You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Keywords

water, cotton, digital, UAVs, Science, agriculture, Plant, breeding, irrigation, data science

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2518