Dr Brett Whelan
Farming should be interesting, profitable and as environmentally positive as possible. All three can be attained if good science is mixed with sound practical application, but we need to look, think and act at the right scale and time.
I am interested in improving the efficiency of crop management in terms of input and water use within fields and farms. To do this requires that we understand the natural variability in crop production potential, identify and remedy any areas that have manipulable production restrictions, and then target our yield goals and input management to produce the most financially profitable crop with the greatest positive impact on the environment. Precision Agriculture (PA) is a management philosophy that encompasses these aims, and is the field in which I work as a research scientist.
My research has been aimed at utilising geospatial information on within-field variation in crop, soil and landscape gathered from remote and proximal sensing systems to develop PA as a practical crop management system for the grains, cotton, viticulture and horticultural industries. This is being achieved on commercial farms using techniques and procedures for quantifying the spatially-manageable variability within fields, then defining management classes or ‘zones’ for variable-rate treatment to optimise input use. These days the use of in-season crop reflectance sensors is enabling the incorporation of seasonal conditions into the management decisions.
I have a number of current projects that are funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) that involve research and education in PA.
I worked within the electricity generation industry for 9 years and undertook a small farm management course at TAFE before completing a BscAgr (Hons) at the University of Sydney. In 1995 I was involved in the establishment of the Australian Centre for Precision Agriculture (ACPA), a research and teaching entity within the now Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
I subsequently attained a PhD in PA in 1998 from the University of Sydney under the supervision of Prof. Alex McBratney, the Director of the ACPA. Since then I have continued researching in the field of PA at the ACPA, with the help of numerous commercial farmers, commodity research and development organisations and research colleagues.
I am a founding co-convener of the annual Symposium on Precision Agriculture (PA) in Australasia, now in its 15th year as a national forum for developments in PA. I have developed and taught PA to undergraduates in one form or another for the past 10 years and am currently co-supervising 2 postgraduate students in the field of PA.
The ACPA continues to provide information and instruction for the wider national and international agricultural communities, along with consultancy on PA data gathering, mapping, interpretation and farm management implications. A comprehensive set of PA education and training modules for the Australian grains industry was released in October 2010 and is freely available at the ACPA website.
Please visit the ACPA website to learn more about Brett and PA.
- Whelan, B.M. & Taylor, J.A. (2010). Precision Agriculture Education and Training Modules for the Australian Grains Industry. GRDC and ACPA, 8 modules, 452p.
- Whelan, B.M., Sun, Y., Zeng, Q, Shulze Lammers, P. & Hassall, J. (2010). Paddock-scale draught resistance and soil moisture measurement in Australia using a tine-based force/capacitance sensing system. Chapter 30 In: R.A. Viscarra Rossel et al. (eds.), Proximal Soil Sensing. Progress in Soil Science 1, Springer Science + Business Media B.V. pp 353-362.
- Taylor, J.A. & Whelan, B.M. (2010). Selection of ancillary data to derive production management units in sweet corn (Zea Mays var. rugosa) using MANOVA and an information criterion. Precision Agric., DOI 10.1007/s11119-010-9195-30.
- Florin, M.J., McBratney, A.B., Whelan, B.M. & Minasny, B. (2010). Inverse meta-modeling to estimate soil available water capacity at high spatial resolution across a farm. Precision Agric., DOI 10.1007/s11119-010-9184-3.
- Ma, R., McBratney, A.B., Whelan, B.M., Minasny, B. & Short, M. (2010). Comparing temperature correction models for soil electrical conductivity measurement. Precision Agric., DOI 10.1007/s11119-009-9156-7
- Whelan, B.M., Taylor, J.A. & Hassall, J.A. (2009). Site-specific variation in wheat grain protein concentration and wheat grain yield measured on an Australian farm using harvester-mounted on-the-go sensors. Crop and Pasture Science 60: 808-817.
- Florin, M.J. McBratney, A.B. & Whelan, B.M. (2009). Quantification and comparison of wheat yield across space and time. European Journal of Agronomy 30: 212-219.
- de Oliveira, R. & Whelan, B.M. (2008). An index for evaluating crop production variability from remote and proximal sensor data. In: Global Issues, Paddock Action: Proceedings of the 14th Australian Agronomy Conference 21-25 September 2008, Adelaide, South Australia. Australian Society of Agronomy.(CD publication)
- Whelan, B.M., Taylor, J.A. & McBratney, A.B. (2007). Potential management classes: is there value in their delineation? Proceedings of the 11th Symposium on Precision Agriculture in Australasia, Palmerston North, NZ, 8p.
- Taylor, J.A., McBratney, A.B. and Whelan, B.M. (2007). Establishing management classes for broadacre grain production. Agronomy Journal 99: 1366-1376.
Website: Precision Agriculture Laboratory