Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 4

Search our directory of experts in Drought Resilience and Agricultural Innovation.  We've just started building it, but it we will continue to add new researchers and other experts in diverse fields relevant to the Hub's mission.  If you would like to recommend someone, do get in touch:

Stefan Arndt 2022

Prof Stefan Arndt

Professor Physiological and Ecosystem EcologyUniversity of Melbourne
  • North-East
  • dryland, sustainability, soils, productivity

Professor Stefan Arndt is an ecologist with 20 years of experience in applied ecosystem science. His research centres around the question how plants and entire ecosystems cope with changes in environmental conditions and how they respond to climate extremes like drought or heat stress. He investigates plant performance under environmental stress to predict which plant species will be best suited to survive and thrive in a future climate in forests, revegetation projects or urban areas. His research has three major areas of focus. In ecophysiology and plant adaptation he investigates the variety of mechanisms that enable plants to grow and thrive in their environment. In applied ecophysiology he studies plant species, provenances or cultivars that are best adapted to a future climate. And in ecosystem ecology he investigates the impact that climate and climate change has on key ecosystem processes like carbon cycling and greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the greatest challenges in farm and landscape management is selecting the right plants for the right place. With a changing climate we need to ensure that plants we select today are not mal-adapted to their environment in future years. Predicting which plants will do well where is a major challenge and understanding why plants will respond in a certain way is critical to generalise our approach for future plant management.

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Dr Sajitha Biju

Post Doctoral Research FellowUniversity of Melbourne
  • Gippsland
  • grain, cropping, dryland, drought policy, sustainability, soils, legumes, lentil, physiology, biochemistry, antioxidants, nitrogen fixation, roots, hormones

Dr Sajitha Biju is an Early Career Research Scientist working in the School of Agriculture and Food, the Faculty of Science, The University of Melbourne. Her main research focus lies in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry to explore possible biochemical defense pathways and mechanisms leading to sustainable drought stress management in legumes. Dr. Biju has investigated the role of the mineral element Silicon (Si) in alleviating drought stress in lentil plants by conducting different physiological, biochemical, and molecular experiments. Dr. Biju is currently working on a project which aimed to investigate the role of silicon in regulating the below-ground traits and its role in symbiotic Nitrogen fixation of lentil plants under drought stress.

  1. Drastic change in climate
  2. Loss of biodiversity
  3. Nutritional insecurity
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Dr Hamish Clarke

Senior Research FellowUniversity of Melbourne
  • Gippsland, South-West, North-West, North-East, Outside Vict
  • spatial data, visualisation, wildfire, risk management, climate change

Wildfire risk, fire management, climate change, risk communication, industry engagement, community engagement

Bringing multiple perspectives together to arrive at a nuanced and realistic picture of the drivers of fire, its effects, the cost-effectiveness of management and climate change effects on all of the above


Dr Tim Clune

Senior LecturerLa Trobe Business School, La Trobe University
  • Outside Victoria, North-East, NW Irrigated Horticulture, North-West, South-West, Gippsland
  • broad-acre, soils, water policy, agriculture policy, rural business resilience

I am passionate about sustainable agribusinesses and their contribution to sustainable regional economies. I have spent the last two decades in senior consulting, research, science management and corporate roles across the private and public sectors and in the not-for-profit sector. My diverse experience includes agribusiness research and education; advising government, agriculture and urban landscape clients as a consulting agronomist as well as environmental and corporate risk management in the water sector. My current research focusses on rural business resilience, the equitable distribution of water resources in regional communities and agriculture policy. My research is grounded in the understanding of farming systems as part of a complex catchment environment. I have undergraduate qualifications in Agricultural Science and a PhD in Agriculture, both from the University of Sydney. Additionally, I have a Masters of Environmental Laws obtained from the Australian National University and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

The key opportunity for agribusiness is capturing the demand of a burgeoning global population. The key challenge is managing the complexity of a dynamic and changing future climate. Necessarily, this requires both clear policy direction as well as an agribusiness sector that has the capacity to foresee and accommodate the necessary management changes required to achieve the production outcomes. Adopting new and innovative production techniques, business models, technology etc will require new and different skills from those currently supporting agribusiness. Consequently, industry and policy makers must work together to develop evidence-based outcomes that support the generation of the new knowledge and skills.


Prof Ross Kingwell

ProfessorUniversity of Western Australia
  • Outside Victoria
  • farm finance, innovation assessment, farming systems analysis, risk analysis, agricultural policy

Ross is a respected agricultural economist; the author of more than 145 journal articles and book chapters, and more than 320 conference papers and policy reports. He is a professor in the School of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Western Australia, chief economist in the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, and a leader of a small group of economists in the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Ross has an enduring interest in the financial performance of farm businesses and has published long-term studies of the impact of drought on broad-acre farms in SW Australia.

Changes in Australian and international grain supply chains; changing demand for Australian grain; innovations and policies affecting the Australia's mixed farming systems and grain sector


Prof Ruth Nettle

ProfessorUniversity of Melbourne
  • Gippsland, South-West, North-West, NW Irrigated Horticulture, North-East, Outside Vict
  • drought policy, agricultural policy, rural business resilience, livestock, dairy, sustainability, farming systems analysis

Social science applied to the study of agricultural innovation, the social organization of farming, farm workplace relations, the resilience of farming systems and rural communities and agricultural extension policy and design. The social dimensions of drought preparedness, drought response and adaptation to climate change at both the farm and community level are areas of research, along with the technology and workforce implications.

The greatest challenge is to effectively support the change process for people and communities. This requires unprecedented levels of coordination and collaboration between organizations and with people and communities and a renewed focus on the education, training and skills that support the transitions.

Social science research and practice provides an opportunity to reveal the critical change processes that need to be supported and at the same time it supports the collective action so often needed to make progress in the challenges of drought, climate change and technological disruption.

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Dr Lucie Newsome

LecturerUniversity of New England
  • Outside Victoria
  • gender, farm finance, livestock, beef

My research interests are:

  • Gender and farm succession planning
  • Agricultural labour force change, particularly the professionalisation of agriculture and growth in the professional services sector.
  • Women's roles in agricultural production, particularly regenerative and small scale production.
  • Local food systems and producer and consumer engagement within these food systems.

I teach into the Bachelor of Agribusiness, Bachelor of Business and Master of Human Resource Management at the University of New England.

Creating equality of access to farming resources for a more sustainable and innovative sector.

Daniel Sampson

Prof Danny Sampson

ProfessorUniversity of Melbourne
  • Gippsland, South-West, Outside Victoria
  • farm finance, productivity, quality management, business strategy, ESG, sustainability, supply chain, farm operations

Expert in innovation, have researched on farm practices and profitability in wool and beef industries. Expert in operations management and supply chain design and improvement. Expert in business strategy, especially sustainability and ESG. Experienced in decision-making research and practices.

Future of farming requires modern business models, technologies, operational excellence, and ESG practices

Alexandria Sinnett

Dr Alexandria Sinnett

Senior LecturerUniversity of Melbourne
  • Gippsland, South-West, North-West, NW Irrigated Horticulture, North-East
  • farming systems analysis, risk analysis, farm finance

I am a senior lecturer in farm economics in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Over the last 12 years I have worked on a series of research projects with different agricultural industries to understand the impacts of projected climate changes and to explore options to adapt to a changing climate. I have highly developed skills in economic, financial and risk modelling.

A changing climate and changing consumer preferences

Pablo Zarco-Tejada 4 subset

Prof Pablo Zarco-Tejada

ProfessorUniversity of Melbourne
  • NW Irrigated Horticulture
  • spatial data, visualisation, horticulture, irrigated, remote sensing

Pablo J. Zarco-Tejada is a Professor in Remote Sensing and Precision Agriculture at the University of Melbourne. He leads the HyperSens Laboratory focused on remote sensing for crop stress detection using hyperspectral and thermal images acquired by piloted and uncrewed aircraft systems. He is Agricultural Engineer, M.Sc. in Remote Sensing and PhD in Earth and Space Science. He has been a Faculty member in remote sensing at the University of California, Davis, USA, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, National Research Council (CSIC, Spain), and Senior Scientist at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. Highly Cited Researcher since 2019, he is the author of more than 150 papers published in international journals. He is Associate Editor of Remote Sensing of Environment and European Journal of Agronomy journals and has received awards in Spain, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Efficient use of water under expanding agriculture with limited resources and under climate change with increased droughts.

Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 4