Mitigation of agricultural emissions and managing environmental degradation are among the key challenges for increased food production under highly variable edaphic conditions and uncertain climates.  

Our research is aimed at improving the understanding the biological, chemical, and physical complexities of soil-plant ecosystems and the complex interface between agriculture in a mechanistic framework for predicting the behaviours of agricultural production systems different management regimes. A key focus of our research is the use of simulation modelling platform to integrate point scale observations / measurements into a paddock, whole farm and landscape (or catchment scale) outputs, effectively addressing the issues of spatial variability.

A key outcome of this research is a biophysical simulation modelling-based decision support system ‘WNMM’ that has demonstrated capabilities of simulating water, nutrients and carbon dynamics under a given agricultural management and define optimal strategies for managing water and fertiliser N under intensive cropping systems. However, our research intensively use a range of other farming systems modelling tools (e.g. APSIM, AusFarm, DairyMod, SGS and Grasgro), hydrological modelling tools (e.g. CAT, HYDRUS2/3D). Further, a suit of whole farm, bio-economic optimisation tools is also currently being developed. 


  • Simulation of water and nutrients dynamics and greenhouse gases emissions from mixed farming systems in Victoria
  • Agricultural Decision Support System for the optimum use of water and fertilizer nitrogen for sustainable agricultural production and improved environmental quality
  • Improving the management of water and nitrogen fertilizer for agricultural profitability, water quality and reduced nitrous oxide emissions in China and Australia
  • Farm Systems Analysis (Farms, Rivers and Markets project)

    Funded by: National Water Commission, Victorian Water Trust and the University of Melbourne

Research Group Contact Information

Name and Honorifics: Kithsiri B Dassanayake, Research Fellow
Title: Group Leader
Dept: Department of Agriculture and Food Systems
Faculty:  Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne


Research Students

  • Mr Chen Can (PhD): Decision support systems for mitigation of nitrogenous greenhouse gas emission from intensive agricultural systems
  • Mrs Anuga Liyanage (MSc): Investigation of climate change Impact on Australian rice production systems: Simulation modelling approach
  • Karestine Nga (MSc): Productivity and Nitrogen dynamics of a wheat-legume cropping system under future climates in Victoria: An investigation based on bio-physical modelling tool ‘APSIM’


  • Chapman C, Dassanayake K, Hill J, Cullen B, and Lane N (2012) Forage-based dairying in a water-limited future: Use of models to investigate farming system adaptation in southern Australia.  J Dairy Sci. 95: 4153-4175.
  • Li, Y., Chen, D., Zhang, Y.M., Ding, H., 2005. Comparison of three modeling approaches for simulating denitrification and nitrous oxide emissions from loam-textured arable soils. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol.19, No.3, GB3002 10.1029/2004GB002392, 09 July 2005.
  • Li, Y., Chen, D., White, R., Zhang, J., Li, B., Zhang, Y., Huang, Y., Edis, R., 2007. A Spatially Referenced Water and Nitrogen Management Model (WNMM) for (irrigated) intensive cropping systems in the North China Plain. Ecological Modelling, 203: 395-423 (doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.12.011).
  • Li, Y., Chen, D., White, R.E., Zhu, A., Zhang, J., 2007. Estimating soil hydraulic properties of Fengqiu County soils in the North China Plain using pedo-transfer functions. Geoderma, 138: 261-271 (doi:10.1016/j.geoderma.2006.11.018).
  • Douglas, P., Dassanayake, K.B., Johnson, I.R. Chapman, D.F., Malano, H. and Khanna, M. (2010) An integrated model for simulation of border-check irrigated dairy pasture production systems. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 74, 39–50 (doi: 10.1016/j.compag.2010.05.010)
  • Ramilan, T., Farquharson, R., George, BA, Sammonds, M,  Vietz, GJV, Yen, J, Shenton, W  Dassanayake, K.B.,  Cullen, BR,  Stewardson, MJ  Western AW (2011). An environmental economic assessment of water sharing alternatives for the Broken Catchment in the Northern Victoria. Proc of 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation MODSIM2011- (pp.1386-1392 MODSIM2011(Perth)
  • Dassanayake, D., Dassanayake, K.B., Malano, H. Dunn, G., Douglas, P., and Langford, J (2009) Water saving through smarter irrigation in Australian dairy farming: Use of intelligent irrigation controller and wireless sensor network.18th World IMACS / MODSIM Congress, Cairns, Australia.

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