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CeRDI Newsletter Summer 2022

Message from the Director

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor Helen Thompson
Director, CeRDI


Federation University has a proud and distinguished 152-year history as an educational institution. With campuses across Australia, the University is shifting gear in 2022 to better meet the anticipated changes to technology and society. The University’s Strategic Plan outlines its role as a leading regional university and a ‘community-embedded’ university fully integrated with industry, employers, community and government, building on the connections established over its long history. 

Through eResearch, CeRDI will actively contribute to this shared vision. We will play a key role in leading and supporting research activities and in building a strong and vibrant research community with extended involvement and collaboration across the university and beyond.

The latest research in CeRDI highlights the breadth of this contribution. CeRDI is involved in projects that are making substantial change and improvement to our communities, groups, and industries - and to our environment. In the Lake Corangamite region, we are conducting research on water security, supporting the local landholders by providing insights about water flow and water management, informing communities in the region, agriculture industry and government alike. Agricultural research projects, including the 3D soil constraints and the decision making for climate variability projects, are providing much needed new insights for the industry.

Our CeRDI team of skilled researchers, technologists and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates have been actively supporting and contributing to workshops and activities at national and international levels. These are valued opportunities that provide a basis for learning across our Centre and University.


Improving water security for farms and lakes in the northern Lake Corangamite area

Improving water security for farms and lakes in the northern Lake Corangamite area  

CeRDI is undertaking research in the Lake Corangamite area, for the Cundare-Duverney Landcare and Leslie Manor Landcare groups, to improve farm water security and farm resilience in response to climate change. The project aims to increase knowledge of water resources and improve farm water security for landholders and farmers in the northern Lake Corangamite area of the Victorian Western Plains. 

In recent decades, this geographical region has experienced declining surface water runoff and water table levels. While various causes have been attributed to these trends, reduced rainfall is considered the major contributing factor. Since climate change models predict further declines in rainfall, managing water resources and balancing competing needs for farm water supplies and the water requirements of the lakes, which has high environmental value, is a priority.

Informed decisions for managing climate variability in grazing systems

informed decisions for managing climate variability in grazing systems  

A project examining informed decisions for managing climate variability in grazing systems is underway. CeRDI is contributing to the project, which is led by Perennial Pasture Systems (PPS) with technical assistance from Agriculture Victoria. The project involves applying available technologies in combination to provide pasture growth predictors to assist farmers’ decision making to address climate change and its potential environmental impact.

A key feature of the project is to combine moisture and temperature soil probe data (using existing probe data collected by PPS) with grass cut data and modelling by the CSIRO to develop a tool that can aid farming practices. The project will analyse predicted pasture growth for the region (which comprises the Upper Wimmera, Upper Hopkins and Central region of Victoria) using the key tools and develop a spatial presentation that will assist farmer decision making in grazing systems for the variable climate conditions that are now part of the region's farming systems.

3D soil constraints

GRDC Final Grower Report  

Final reporting for a project to evaluate existing and emerging technologies for three-dimensional (3D) soils data at a sub-paddock scale for growers was recently completed. The project included examination of future on-the-go amelioration options of different constraints and soils.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) commissioned this research which was led by Colere Group, in collaboration with other industry and government partners, including Federation University. Dr Nathan Robinson, Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus and CeRDI PhD candidate Peter Weir contributed to the literature search and review about sensor data for soils in agriculture. The team provided key insights with reference to the latest published research examining 3D sensing pertinent to: 

CeRDI representing Australia at global ground water data workshop


GroundWater Markup Language 2 (GWML2) is an international standard for the online exchange of groundwater data and will be the focus of the upcoming international workshop presented by World Meteorological Association (WMO) and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). This workshop will introduce GroundWaterML2 to global participants and present applications and demonstrations of its use from around the world. CeRDI researchers, Bruce Simons, Andrew MacLeod and Peter Dahlhaus, will participate in the workshop and provide a demonstration of the GroundWaterML2 implementation in Australia.

The OCG is an international industry consortium with over 500 organisations and companies participating to develop publicly available interface standards. The OCG standards enable complex spatial information and services to become accessible and valuable across different applications. CeRDI is an active OGC member and has contributed to the development of international data standards focused on addressing the problems created by heterogeneous groundwater data. CeRDI has collaborated with other member organisations and contributed extensively on OCG developments associated with international agricultural and environmental data exchange standards.

Australian National Soil Information System 

Dr Megan Wong  

Dr Megan Wong


During 2022, Research Associate Dr Megan Wong will be working with CSIRO on the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project. ANSIS will provide the mechanisms to access and federate soil data and information through a collaborative partnership. The project will deliver and manage soil data and information standards and develop centralised and distributed soil data management systems for improved data exchange and use. ANSIS will federate data with relevant existing systems and will incorporate current and legacy data. By providing accessible soil data, ANSIS will support the measurement of the impact of land management practices and enable reporting on trends and changes in soil health over time, facilitating sustainable soil management.

The ANSIS project is a deliverable under the Commonwealth government’s National Soil Strategy . The Strategy is aimed at ensuring Australia’s soil resources are recognised and valued as a key national asset and outlines how Australia will value, manage and improve its soil for the next 20 years. Released in May 2021, the Strategy prioritises “soil health, empowers soil innovation and stewards, and strengthens soil knowledge and capability” (National Soil Package , 2022).

PhD scholarship and top-up opportunity

Federation University with industry support from IBM and the Food Agility CRC is currently inviting applicants for a PhD scholarship and top-up. Projects have been co-designed and will be co-supervised by IBM scientists and leading academics within the University’s Research Centres. 

The following PhD project will be led by CeRDI academics: Decision support to achieve net zero carbon for land managers and enterprise managers. Supervisors include Federation University/CeRDI’s Dr Birgita Hansen, Dr Nathan Robinson; IBM: Dr Arun Vishwanath, Dr Ram Kolluri

For further information about this PhD scholarship please contact Birgita or Nathan:

The full list of scholarships, projects, conditions and eligibility criteria is available at Federation University’s Graduate Research School .

Staff profile: Gabriela Ceregra, Data Policy Manager

Gabriela Ceregra, Data Policy Manger  

Gabriela Ceregra
Data Policy Manager


Gabi commenced her role as Data Policy Manager at CeRDI in January 2022. She will be supporting the Food Agility CRC and the National Farmers' Federation in increasing the uptake of digital technologies in agriculture, by putting in place appropriate data management policies and procedures to encourage trust and data sharing between farmers, ag tech business, and research. 

Gabi brings with her experience in data management across health, financial services, and government. Managing small and large scale data projects and operational data governance teams has provided her with insight into how data is created, managed, and used across global organisations, and the risk management and regulatory requirements that need to be considered to create sustainable and scalable data eco-systems. 

Gabi holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Management (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington, is a PMBOK certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a certified Agile Scrum Master. 

News Snippets

Research fellow - new appointment

Dr Benedikt Fest has been appointed to the role of Research Fellow, Soil and Carbon at CeRDI. In this role, Ben will work with researchers across the Centre and Federation University, and with other university and industry partners on the Food Agility CRC Rangelands Carbon project. Ben will also contribute to other CeRDI projects linked to technology adoption, knowledge management and decision making.

Workshop attendance: Vocabularies for data use and reuse

CeRDI’s Dr Megan Wong was one of 25 researchers to attend a four-day workshop about data vocabularies, data organisation and classification, late last year. One of the principal activities for workshop participants was to develop and test practices for preparing, publishing and maintaining FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable: FAIR data principles ) vocabularies for the research community. For more information about the workshop visit:

ARDC newsroom: How can you make vocabularies FAIRer? 
Homepage: FAIR data workshop

Higher Degree by Research News

Dr Basharat Ali  

Dr Basharat Ali


PhD research update: Dr Basharat Ali

Dr Basharat Ali is currently analysing data following extensive and successful data collection. Basharat is investigating the roles of data, digital agriculture and resilience in agricultural performance. The principal method of data collection for this research was an online survey. Basharat completed his data collection late last year and received 275 survey responses Australia-wide, from key stakeholders in the agriculture industry including farmers, farm managers, agronomists and agriculture researchers. 

Basharat is employing advanced data analysis tools/techniques such as PLS-SEM to analyse the survey data. Basharat also recently lodged two papers from his PhD for journal review. Basharat plans to submit his PhD for examination later this year.

The first journal paper from Basharat’s PhD has recently been published:

Ali, B. & Dahlhaus, P. (2022). The Role of FAIR Data towards Sustainable Agricultural Performance: A Systematic Literature Review. Agriculture, 12, 309.

For more information about Basharat’s research:

About CeRDI

The Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is a research centre at Federation University Australia focused on:

  • the application of information and communications technology (ICT) and the development of innovative, world class knowledge management systems;
  • significantly advancing the digital literacy and knowledge management capabilities of partner organisations;
  • fostering partnerships for the development and implementation of eResearch with industry, government and academia; and
  • measuring the impact of eResearch and digital innovation through longitudinal research.

Contact CeRDI

For further details about CeRDI’s diverse portfolio of research please visit our website:, or contact Director, Associate Professor Helen Thompson:

Mailing Address

Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation
Federation University Australia
PO Box 691
Ballarat Vic 3353

Office Location

Suite 15, Greenhill Enterprise Centre
Ballarat Technology Park
University Drive
Mount Helen Vic 3350

Phone: +61 3 5327 9314

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