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CeRDI Newsletter Summer 2019

Message from the Director

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor
Helen Thompson


Welcome to another issue of the CeRDI Newsletter.

In late 2018 CeRDI prepared a comprehensive response to the Federation University-wide call for applications for designated University Research Centres. The application process provided an invaluable opportunity for the Centre as a whole, to reflect on CeRDI’s research journey over the last twenty years, and to plan our approach, strategies and goals for coming years where we anticipate continued and increasing contribution to the University’s research performance, engagement and impact.

So too, this newsletter provides a valuable mechanism for sharing our research successes with a wider audience, both within and external to the University. CeRDI research is reflected in the stories presented here, and also on our website ( These two platforms provide insight and reflect the diversity and breadth of the research we are undertaking across CeRDI’s priority research areas.

Extensive new research is being conducted in soils. CeRDI researchers and our partner collaborators have been funded to research new approaches to develop unique insights for improved soil conditions and for high performance soils. This will benefit the Australian agriculture and farming industries. Another project has been funded to understand and potentially strengthen the core relationships across the industry stakeholders in relation to soil management finance. A recent workshop was held at Federation University, facilitated by CeRDI’s Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus, to initiate the Visualising Australasia’s Soils research. Each of these projects contribute significantly to the Agriculture theme within CeRDI, confirming that soil in agriculture is an important growth area for research at the Centre.

Current and new projects in areas of health and wellbeing, natural environment, heritage and culture are also featured in this newsletter including Youth C.A.N., the migratory bird tracking research, and the Honouring our ANZACS website.

These and other stories provide a small sample of the extensive research activities undertaken within the Centre. In addition to this, I would highly recommend visiting our website for further updates about research across our core themes. New opportunities, including scholarships, will also be promoted through our website.

Associate Professor Helen Thompson
Director, CeRDI
February 2019


Major investment in soil projects

Major Investment in Soil projects and CeRDI researchers  

CeRDI’s Nathan Robinson, Ben Wills and Megan Wong recently received news that three Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program applications they collaborated on have been funded.

Nathan is a key researcher on two of the projects, the first of which involves other technical and research staff at CeRDI, and entails a design and validation framework for in-field applications examining Bioindicators of high performing soils. The project is being led by Agriculture Victoria Research in collaboration with grain growers, advisers and researchers with the aim of co-designing a set of usable, biological indicators linked to soil issues for low and high performing soils. The framework will provide farmers with locally relevant and robust information on bioindicators of soil performance for enduring grain production. A design framework for targeting 'best bet' bioindicators and for developing a "soil performance simulator" will also be developed for medium to high rainfall grain production regions of western Victoria. This framework will account for soil types and management. This project will commence in mid-2019 and will be completed in 2022.


The Yarra Catchment Atlas

Yarra Catchment Atlas - an online spatial information portal  

 Yarra Catchment Atlas - an online spatial
information portal


CeRDI, with Dr Birgita Hansen as project lead, has partnered with the Yarra Riverkeeper Association ( to develop the Yarra Catchment Atlas – an online spatial information portal intended to feature biodiversity, environmental and cultural information for the Yarra Catchment.

Public awareness of the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the Yarra River and Bay is generally poor due to a lack of access to the information collected by community groups and agencies. The Yarra Catchment Atlas aims to redress this by federating a range of relevant datasets into a publicly accessible interactive mapping portal.

The Yarra Catchment Atlas seeks to achieve two goals: first, to provide a tool to gain better insight into biological and ecological systems in the Yarra Catchment and how they influence dynamics in Port Phillip Bay; and second, improve appreciation and understanding of the Yarra Catchment and Bay.


Youth C.A.N. (Changing Alcohol Norms) project: Video launch

The Youth C.A.N. project, funded by VicHealth  

The Youth C.A.N. project, funded by VicHealth


The Youth C.A.N. project, funded by VicHealth and co-ordinated by Horsham Rural City Council (HRCC) and CeRDI, recently launched a video showcasing one of the key programs involving young people in Horsham. Entitled ‘It’s OK to say no’, the video is one of a number of important initiatives to address alcohol harm and awareness for the region’s youth.

Developed in close consultation with local young people and project stakeholders, the program and subsequent video provides young people with an opportunity to share insights around the youth drinking culture – and identify strategies for behaviours change – through live theatre. The program offers local stakeholder groups, school representatives, local leaders and parents a better understanding of the issues faced by young people about teenage alcohol consumption. 

The video represents one of the key strategies implemented by CeRDI senior research fellow Dr Angela Murphy. Angela has been closely involved in the program from its initiation, and was instrumental in developing the program and the funding application which led to VicHealth’s continued financial support for both stages of the project. In commenting on the video launch, Angela said, ‘It’s really pleasing to see this video – it represents an integral part of the initial program. It is so great to see it up and running as a key response strategy designed for and supporting Horsham’s youth’.


Migratory bird tracking success 

Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) carrying a geolocator  

Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii)
carrying a geolocator


CeRDI’s Dr Birgita Hansen, leader of the Latham’s Snipe Project, shared exciting news with the recapture, late last year, of another Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) carrying a geolocator. The recapture provided the team with its second complete migration data record, detailing the bird’s migratory journey over an 11-month period.

This is only the second bird to be successfully recaptured with an intact geolocator. The data from this latest bird yields important insights that assist in better understanding the migratory patterns of these wading birds that visit Australia during the northern winter. 

This data reveals that the bird, ‘P3’, stopped somewhere in south-east Queensland on its northward migration. It spent the breeding season in either the very north of Hokkaido or southern Sakhalin, Russia (around late April to early August), and then returned to Australia via central Honshu (Japan) and possibly even Papua New Guinea. ‘P3’ was recaptured at wetlands in Canberra after travelling a round journey of approximately 19,000 km.



Soil sampling research with the Glenelg-Hopkins Catchment Management Authority

CeRDI senior research fellow Dr Nathan Robinson is working with Glenelg-Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (GHCMA) to support the delivery of natural resources management for key environmental and sustainable agriculture priorities through the establishment of a soil monitoring network. This work is part of the Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Soils4Farms project that aims to help farmers improve and protect their soil and is funded through the Australian Government’s, National Landcare Program.  

Focus for the project will include managing soil acidity – a national and regional priority – with a focus on supporting farmers. A series of soil monitoring sites will be established to enable benchmarking of soil condition with resampling to assess change, in 2023.

One hundred soil monitoring research test sites will be established in the GHMCA region. Various sample depths will be tested, including composite samples that adhere to the national soil carbon research programme methodologies. Each site will be chosen in consultation with the farmer and where there is likely to be no contamination effects from factors such as fertiliser dumps, stock camps or water troughs. 


University hosts Digital Health CRC Showcase

Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)  Ballarat Showcase.  

Digital Health Cooperative Research
Centre (CRC) Ballarat Showcase.


In late February, Federation University hosted the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Ballarat Showcase. The showcase was attended by managers of the Digital Health CRC, together with key representatives from the health sector across the Ballarat region, and health and technology researchers from Federation University. 

The CRC for Digital Health was awarded in 2018 to a consortium that includes Federation University and 15 other universities as well as 69 government and industry partners. $55 million in funding was awarded by the federal government to support the CRC for 7 years. The aim of the CRC is to improve the health and health care of Australians and advance the economy with collaborative research and development using a combination of multi-disciplinary skills, industry knowledge, technologies, networks and data.

The Digital Health CRC Ballarat Showcase was organised to facilitate discussion about, and showcase the breadth of skills and projects from the university and around the region. CeRDI was closely involved in organising the event and was an active participant at the forum which also provided networking opportunities, visiting speakers, and a range of presentations by academic staff. A panel session followed by Q&A with the CRC management team was a highlight of the forum.  Over 30 participants attended this very successful event for showcasing regional initiatives, with opportunity to engage with the CRC staff about the eco-system of this important initiative. 


Honouring our ANZACS website 

Left-alignHonouring our ANZACS website   

Honouring our ANZACS website 


Developed by the City of Ballarat with technical support from CeRDI, Honouring Our Anzacs website marks the Centenary of Anzac, and will assist the public in accessing the stories of Ballarat servicemen and servicewomen who participated in the First World War.

The website documents the fascinating history behind the development of the Avenue of Honour, and later, the erection of the Arch of Victory and the pivotal efforts by the “Lucas Girls” (employees of the E. Lucas & Co. textile company). The novelty for users of the Honouring Our Anzacs site is the opportunity to conduct a search for a family member or former serviceperson and instantly receive a map pinpointing the location of their tree on the Avenue of Honour, including tree number and accompanied by biographical details.

The aim of the website is to bring to light further details of the journeys Ballarat service people took to war. Some 3,801 Ballarat men and women enlisted to serve in World War One. One in eight did not return home. The Honouring Our Anzacs site provides more of the personal details beyond the basic unit, name and tree number that were able to be displayed on the commemorative plaque placed at the foot of each tree.


Online Farm Trials: Latest technical developments 

Online Farm Trials  

Online Farm Trials


Online Farm Trials (OFT) continues to develop technically, and expand its stakeholder base through increased organisational contributions and trial data. 

OFT is a collaborative research project between CeRDI and the Grains Research and Development Corporation and involves the digital transformation of trial research information from Australia’s grains industry. OFT offers advanced spatial mapping and filtering systems of legacy data enabling agronomists, growers and other industry stakeholders with access to published research trials and information that may assist in decision-making processes.


Visualising Australasia’s Soils: Off to a great start!

Visualising Australasia’s Soils: Off to a great start!  

The 2-year Visualising Australasia’s Soils project, funded by the Soil CRC, will create a web portal to access shared public and private soil datasets.

CeRDI is leading the project, and hosted a kick-off workshop at Ballarat from 11 to 14 February. More than 30 participants from partner organisations gathered for the four-day workshop, some travelling from as far away as New Zealand, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Canberra and Tasmania to attend. 

Participants explored data governance issues and ways to demonstrate the value of sharing and using soil datasets, viewed examples of existing portals and considered the technical side of portal development to meet user needs. Extension materials will be developed to support adoption of the portal. See for more information (scroll down to Project 2.3.01). 


Update: Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action - How Well Are We Adapting

Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action - How Well Are We Adapting  

Western Alliance for Greenhouse
Action - How Well Are We Adapting


The How Well Are We Adapting (HWAWA) framework, developed in partnership with the RMIT Centre for Urban Research and Net Balance Foundation, underpins the work of the Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action (WAGA) councils. It specifies the monitoring, evaluation and reporting on climate adaptation performance of the WAGA member councils. The framework is unique, being among the world-wide first climate change adaptation monitoring and evaluation framework implemented for measuring adaptation focused on local government, and developed and tested by decision makers. CeRDI has been closely involved in the development of the technology that supports the HWAWA framework.

Stage 1, which was the development of How Well Are We Adapting, was completed in March 2017. Between March 2017 and October 2018, the WAGA councils commenced using the HWAWA tool. Stage 2 will involve the extension of the tool to other Victorian councils and the development of further monitoring, evaluating and reporting (ME&R) indicators to incorporate in the tool. Stage 2 is being conducted over 18 months commencing from late 2018.


East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) 10th Meeting of Partners, Hainan, China

East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) 10th Meeting of Partners, Hainan, China  

East Asian-Australasian Flyway
Partnership (EAAFP)


The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) was launched in November 2006 to link people in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway to promote dialogue, co-operation and collaboration to conserve migratory waterbirds and their habitats. It is an informal voluntary initiative between a range of stakeholders including all levels of governments, site managers, multilateral environment agreements, technical institutions, UN agencies, development agencies, industrial and private sector, academia, non-government organisations, community groups and local people.

CeRDI research fellow Dr Birgita Hansen attended the 10th Meeting of Partners of the EAAFP, which was held in December 2018. Birgita was one of two representatives for the Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG). Birgita and her co-representative, Alison Russell-French, were attending in their capacity as members of the AWSG executive committee. The AWSG is an international non-government organisation representative on the EAAFP Management Committee, and one of two key representatives for Australia (along with the Australian Government). 


Staff profile: Dr Amie Sexton

Dr Amie Sexton  

Dr Amie Sexton


Dr. Amie Sexton is a Research Fellow in social researcher at CeRDI, working on the social side of digital innovation. She is working across the range of CeRDI projects, investigating the way people interact with CeRDI web portals – who, what, how, when and why people use them and how it changes the way they work and live. This work is interesting as a means to improve the CeRDI portals, and also to explore the way people interact with the digital world.

Amie completed a PhD at The University of Melbourne in 2017, researching the anthropology of wine production in France and Australia. Titled “Crafting the image and telling the story: a cross-cultural analysis of winery identity in France and Australia.”, this research explored image, identity and storytelling in the wine world, with a focus on the way wineries have responded to the rapid changes in the market in the past 30 years. 

Amie holds undergraduate degrees in music and French, and postgraduate qualifications in education. Alongside her academic career she continues to freelance in education, marketing, events and as a musician, performer and artist. Currently based in Ballarat, Amie has lived and worked in Australia and Europe, and speaks fluent French. Her particular interest areas are the creative process, wine, the arts, and education. 


CeRDI news snippets

Funding application with The University of Sydney: CeRDI researchers including Associate Prof Peter Dahlhaus, Dr Nathan Robinson and Assoc Prof Helen Thompson recently partnered on a large funding application led by The University of Sydney for the Australian Research Council’s Training Centre in Digital Agriculture for Cropping. If funding is successful, the project will involve an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from industry and academia to develop a training centre for leadership in digital agriculture. Focus will be on building research and development capacity in data science and technology, necessary for operationalising digital agriculture in broad acre cropping. The Centre will also extend research with the aim of becoming a world-leader in specialised digital agriculture area, including sensing available nutrients and water in sol and plants, measuring and using crop quality data and combining all data for improved decision making and automated decision implementation. It is anticipated that news about funding success will be released in coming months.

From ELFIE to SELFIE: The CeRDI team has been invited to participate in the Second Environmental Linked Features Interoperability Experiment (SELFIE) through the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). The OGC is an international not for profit organization committed to making quality open standards for the global geospatial community. These standards are made through a consensus process and are freely available for anyone to use to improve sharing of the world's geospatial data.

SELFIE aims for focused simplicity, representing resources built from potentially complex data for easy use on the web. Although SELFIE will test a specific resource model and will follow recognised best practices and OGC standards, a wide range of participant-provided domain-use cases will be used for testing. Ultimately, this work is intended to satisfy the needs of many use cases and many kinds of features, from disaster response and resilience to environmental health and the built environment.

CeRDI’s Bruce Simons and Andrew MacLeod will travel to Belgium in June for the OGC TC meeting and participate in the discussions and technical work for SELFIE. Other CeRDI staff involved in SELFIE include Peter Dahlhaus and Scott Limmer.

Third International Controlled Traffic Farming Conference 2019: Federation University recently hosted the Controlled Traffic Farming conference, with a range of delegates attending and participating in the conference. Controlled Traffic Farming is a system delivering unparalleled improvements in productivity and sustainability for growers of grains, cotton and sugar around the world. CeRDI researchers actively participated in this event. For more information visit:

CeRDI Staff Updates: CeRDI welcomes a new staff member Daniel Ferguson to the CeRDI team. Daniel has joined CeRDI as a technical officer. We also welcome back Dr Judi Walters, who is undertaking a range of activities in CeRDI as research officer providing assistance with Online Farm Trials.

Recent publications by CeRDI staff members: A selection of journal papers co-authored by CeRDI researchers that have been recently published include: 

Bahlo, C., Dahlhaus, P., Thompson, H., & Trotter, M. (2019). The role of interoperable data standards in precision livestock farming in extensive livestock systems: a review. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 156, 459-466.

Steel, K.M., Thompson, H., & Wright, W. (2018) Opportunities for intra-university collaborations in the new research environment. Higher Education Research & Development, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2018.1549537

Good, M., Morgan, J.W., Venn, S., & Green, P. (2019). Timing of snowmelt affects species composition via plant strategy filtering. Basic and Applied Ecology, 35, 54-62. 
DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2019.01.004


CeRDI Postgraduate news

PhD thesis under examination: Postgraduate student David Ebbs has submitted his PhD thesis for examination. David completed his studies through CeRDI and the School of Science, Engineering and Information Technology under the supervision of Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus, Dr Harpreet Singh Kandra and Dr Andrew Barton. Further details about David’s research is available at:

New HDR student: Welcome to new PhD student Elissa Ashton-Smith who commenced her studies in February 2019, and will be examining the social and ecosystem factors defining coastal environments. Elissa’s research will be building on the existing research partnership between Barwon Coast Committee and CeRDI. Her proposed research will consolidate complex and disparate views on coastal use and management using baseline data captured within this partnership in early 2018. Elissa’s research will be profiled further in the next issue of the newsletter.


About CeRDI

The Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is a research centre at Federation University 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
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
Fax: +61 3 5327 9895


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