Computational simulation of plant-soil-water processes for design of agricultural production

Supervisor

Professor Visakan Kadirkamanathan, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
visakan@sheffield.ac.uk | +44 (0)114 2225134

Co-supervisors

Professor David Beerling, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Professor Steve Banwart, University of Leeds


Grantham Scholar

Angesh Anupam

The human population is projected to pass 9 billion by the year 2050. Improved living standards over this period of time are expected to increase the demand for food and fuel, as well as increase the need for clean drinking water by approximately 50 percent. Hence, understanding, predicting and managing the environmental processes that define natural assets such as, soil, air, water and all living things within the Earth’s ‘Critical Zone’ is now one of the most crucial societal challenges of the 21st century. The Earth’s Critical Zone extends from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of our underground layer of water-bearing permeable rocks.

Agricultural production involves a wide range of processes such as water and nutrient uptake by plants, the flow of water and soil-gas within soil layers, the transfer of heat within soil layers, changes in the structure of soil, and more. Most of these processes are interlinked and so it is essential to consider all these factors simultaneously when developing any kind of computer model or scenario evaluation tool to apply to an agricultural system. The aim of this project is to develop this kind of integrated modelling system, consisting of models that relate to the processes involved in agricultural production, and taking into account how they are interlinked.

The proposed integrated modelling system will describe farming scenarios under current UK conditions and future hypothesised conditions for future farming. Accomplishing this project will help answering important questions around crop-production: these may range from yield prediction to broader questions such as a particular crop production’s impact on farmland. This will be an important step towards addressing the problem of food security in the UK, and the model may be extended in the future to take global food production into account.

Contact: Angesh Anupam, aanupam1@sheffield.ac.uk, +44 (0)7448 174381
Twitter: @a_angesh