Matthew Knowling

Dr Matthew Knowling


School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

I am a Lecturer and Research Program Lead in Decision Agriculture at The University of Adelaide.

My work aims to achieve sustainable agricultural futures. I use computer models and data analytics to help farmers, businesses and policy makers to better manage their resources in the face of uncertainty. I have worked extensively within multidisciplinary teams comprising agronomists, hydrologists, climate scientists, economists and engineers, and led the development of decision support tools that integrate data and concepts from across these various disciplines.

My current research is in Decision Agriculture. A key aspect of my research in this area deals with bridging the gap between data and decisions. There are more and more diverse data streams of different shapes and sizes rapidly becoming available in agriculture, and we now face the problem of how to best use all these data. I use computer models and data analytics to translate diverse data streams into actionable information for decision makers to improve their outcomes.

By integrating data and concepts from different disciplines such as agriculture, hydrology and economics, my research has explored trade-offs between often-competing objectives; resolving these trade-offs is often necessary to solve complex, real-world problems. For example, I have combined optimization algorithms and process-based models to optimize dairy farm outcomes while satisfying ecological river health conditions under a range of risk tolerances.

GRDC Farming Systems South

I lead the Farming Systems South program, a $7.6M flagship investment from GRDC aimed at delivering a better understanding of the drivers of profitability and sustainability in farming systems in southern Australia. The program is innovative in its evaluation of both strategic and tactical decisions, as well as their interactions (e.g. crop sequence diversity and nitrogen application). It also evaluates a broad range of performance metrics beyond productivity (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, demand for chemical inputs) and puts to the test emerging and new farming systems, paving a way to reach a new frontier in water-limited potential for the grains industry. Our program is multi-disciplinary, with key workstreams in agronomy, modelling and economics, working together with a network of 5 local farming systems groups, leading growers and private consultants.


I recently led the prediction and advisory component of the $5M ‘VitiVisor’ project, funded by Wine Australia and Riverland Wine, involving a partnership of viticulturists, economists, computer scientists and engineers as well as grape growers in the Riverland region of South Australia. My research blended diverse data streams (e.g., plant and soil moisture sensors, financial benchmarks) with our current understanding of grapevine dynamics using innovative forecasting and data assimilation algorithms. This enabled growers an unprecedented level of ‘situational awareness’—what is happening in the vineyard and why, and which management strategies will likely lead to improved vineyard outcomes?

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2022 - ongoing Lecturer (Decision Agriculture) University of Adelaide
    2020 - 2022 Postdoctoral Researcher University of Adelaide
    2016 - 2020 Modelling Scientist GNS Science
    2015 - 2016 Research Associate Flinders University
    2010 - 2016 Teaching Assistant Flinders University
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2012 - 2016 Flinders University Australia PhD
  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2024 Liang, S., Rivera-Osorio, K., Burgess, A. J., Kumssa, D. B., Escribà-Gelonch, M., Fisk, I., . . . Hessel, V. (2024). Modeling of Space Crop-Based Dishes for Optimal Nutrient Delivery to Astronauts and Beyond on Earth. ACS Food Science and Technology, 4(1), 104-117.
    DOI Scopus2
    2023 Nguyen, M., Knowling, M., Tran, N. N., Burgess, A., Fisk, I., Watt, M., . . . Hessel, V. (2023). Space farming: Horticulture systems on spacecraft and outlook to planetary space exploration. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 194, 708-721.
    DOI Scopus15 WoS6 Europe PMC4
    2023 Knowling, M. J., Walker, R. R., Pellegrino, A., Edwards, E. J., Westra, S., Collins, C., . . . Bennett, B. (2023). Generalized water production relations through process-based modeling: A viticulture example. Agricultural Water Management, 280, 12 pages.
    DOI Scopus2 WoS1
    2023 Chambers, L. A., Hemmings, B., Cox, S. C., Moore, C., Knowling, M. J., Hayley, K., . . . Levy, R. (2023). Quantifying uncertainty in the temporal disposition of groundwater inundation under sea level rise projections. Frontiers in Earth Science, 11, 17 pages.
    DOI Scopus1
    2023 Knowling, M. J., White, J. T., Grigg, D., Collins, C., Westra, S., Walker, R. R., . . . Alzraiee, A. (2023). Operationalizing crop model data assimilation for improved on-farm situational awareness. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 338, 16 pages.
    DOI Scopus3
    2022 White, J. T., Knowling, M. J., Fienen, M. N., Siade, A., Rea, O., & Martinez, G. (2022). A model-independent tool for evolutionary constrained multi-objective optimization under uncertainty. Environmental Modelling and Software, 149, 1-12.
    DOI Scopus9 WoS5
    2022 Alzraiee, A. H., White, J. T., Knowling, M. J., Hunt, R. J., & Fienen, M. N. (2022). A scalable model-independent iterative data assimilation tool for sequential and batch estimation of high dimensional model parameters and states. Environmental Modelling and Software, 150, 1-13.
    DOI Scopus3 WoS2
    2022 Hessel, V., Liang, S., Tran, N. N., Escribà-Gelonch, M., Zeckovic, O., Knowling, M., . . . Burgess, A. (2022). Eustress in Space: Opportunities for Plant Stressors Beyond the Earth Ecosystem. Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, 9, 1-22.
    DOI Scopus9 WoS3
    2022 Markovich, K. H., White, J. T., & Knowling, M. J. (2022). Sequential and batch data assimilation approaches to cope with groundwater model error: An empirical evaluation. Environmental Modelling and Software, 156, 14 pages.
    DOI Scopus3 WoS2
    2021 White, J. T., Hemmings, B., Fienen, M. N., & Knowling, M. J. (2021). Towards improved environmental modeling outcomes: Enabling low-cost access to high-dimensional, geostatistical-based decision-support analyses. Environmental Modelling and Software, 139, 105022.
    DOI Scopus16 WoS13
    2021 Knowling, M. J., Bennett, B., Ostendorf, B., Westra, S., Walker, R. R., Pellegrino, A., . . . Grigg, D. (2021). Bridging the gap between data and decisions: A review of process-based models for viticulture. Agricultural Systems, 193, 1-13.
    DOI Scopus14 WoS13
    2020 Knowling, M. J., White, J. T., Moore, C. R., Rakowski, P., & Hayley, K. (2020). On the assimilation of environmental tracer observations for model-based decision support. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 24(4), 1677-1689.
    DOI Scopus20 WoS18
    2020 Partington, D., Knowling, M. J., Simmons, C. T., Cook, P. G., Xie, Y., Iwanaga, T., & Bouchez, C. (2020). Worth of hydraulic and water chemistry observation data in terms of the reliability of surface water-groundwater exchange flux predictions under varied flow conditions. Journal of Hydrology, 590, 17 pages.
    DOI Scopus21 WoS17
    2020 Hemmings, B., Knowling, M. J., & Moore, C. R. (2020). Early Uncertainty Quantification for an Improved Decision Support Modeling Workflow: A Streamflow Reliability and Water Quality Example. Frontiers in Earth Science, 8, 22 pages.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS4
    2020 White, J. T., Foster, L. K., Fienen, M. N., Knowling, M. J., Hemmings, B., & Winterle, J. R. (2020). Toward Reproducible Environmental Modeling for Decision Support: A Worked Example. Frontiers in Earth Science, 8, 11 pages.
    DOI Scopus23 WoS14
    2020 Knowling, M. J., White, J. T., McDonald, G. W., Kim, J. H., Moore, C. R., & Hemmings, B. (2020). Disentangling environmental and economic contributions to hydro-economic model output uncertainty: An example in the context of land-use change impact assessment. Environmental Modelling and Software, 127, 13 pages.
    DOI Scopus13 WoS10
    2020 White, J. T., Knowling, M. J., Fienen, M. N., Feinstein, D. T., McDonald, G. W., & Moore, C. R. (2020). A non-intrusive approach for efficient stochastic emulation and optimization of model-based nitrate-loading management decision support. Environmental Modelling and Software, 126, 104657-1-104657-11.
    DOI Scopus11 WoS8
    2020 White, J. T., Knowling, M. J., & Moore, C. R. (2020). Consequences of Groundwater-Model Vertical Discretization in Risk-Based Decision-Making. Groundwater, 58(5), 695-709.
    DOI Scopus14 WoS9
    2019 Knowling, M. J., White, J. T., & Moore, C. R. (2019). Role of model parameterization in risk-based decision support: An empirical exploration. Advances in Water Resources, 128, 59-73.
    DOI Scopus33 WoS32
    2017 Knowling, M. J., & Werner, A. D. (2017). Transient recharge estimability through field-scale groundwater model calibration. Groundwater, 55(6), 827-840.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS4 Europe PMC1
    2016 Knowling, M. J., & Werner, A. D. (2016). Estimability of recharge through groundwater model calibration: insights from a field-scale steady-state example. Journal of Hydrology, 540, 973-987.
    DOI Scopus24 WoS23
    2015 Knowling, M. J., Werner, A. D., & Herckenrath, D. (2015). Quantifying climate and pumping contributions to aquifer depletion using a highly parameterised groundwater model: Uley South Basin (South Australia). Journal of Hydrology, 523, 515-530.
    DOI Scopus25 WoS22
    2013 Liggett, J. E., Knowling, M. J., Werner, A. D., & Simmons, C. T. (2013). On the implementation of the surface conductance approach using a block-centred surface-subsurface hydrology model. Journal of Hydrology, 496, 1-8.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS5
  • Conference Items

    Year Citation
    2021 Knowling, M., Westra, S., Bennett, B., Ostendorf, B., Walker, R., Pellegrino, A., . . . Pagay, V. (2021). The ‘cause and effect’ of water decisions: Generalizing water production functions for viticulture through biophysical simulation. Poster session presented at the meeting of 24th International Conference on Modelling and Simulation. Sydney, Australia: Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc.
    2021 Leigh, R., Knowling, M., Westra, S., Bennett, B., Zecchin, A., Maier, H., . . . Devanand, A. (2021). A multi-modelling framework to stress-test water resource systems under change. Poster session presented at the meeting of 24th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2021) Book of Abstracts. Sydney, Australia: Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc..
    2021 Knowling, M., White, J. T., Collins, C., Grigg, D., Westra, S., Ostendorf, B., . . . Pagay, V. (2021). Real-time ensemble assimilation of image-based canopy data into a process-based model for improved vineyard forecasting, situational awareness and decision-making. Poster session presented at the meeting of Sydney, Australia.
  • Report for External Bodies

    Year Citation
    2022 Dumbrell, N., O'Connor, P., Matthews, K., Johns, C., Maier, H., Umberger, W., . . . Cavagnaro, T. (2022). Achieving a carbon neutral farming future in South Australia.
    2022 Westra, S., Leigh, R., Knowling, M., Beh, E., Devanand, A., Thyer, M., . . . McInerney, D. (2022). Assessment of current and future water security in the Barossa and Eden Valleys.
Project title Funding body Duration Investment Role
Enterprise choice and sequence strategies that drive sustainable and profitable southern Australian farming systems Grains Research and Development Corporation 2023-2027 $7.6M Principal Investigator


  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2023 Co-Supervisor Creating Digital Twins of Space-Agriculture Systems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Shu Liang
    2023 Co-Supervisor Application of emerging Data Assimilation technologies to support on-farm decisions Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Nawal Omar M Alomar
    2023 Co-Supervisor Policy evaluation using optimization analysis: A case study of sugar self-sufficiency in Indonesia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Zaura Fadhliani
    2023 Co-Supervisor Transition towards a circular economy in Australian agrifood supply chains Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Stephanie Yolanda Bayancela Briones
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Using predictive uncertainty analysis to optimise data acquisition for stream depletion and land-use change GNS Science (New Zealand) - Master Full Time Tess op den Kelder
  • Position: Lecturer
  • Phone: 83137327
  • Email:
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Waite Building, floor Ground Floor
  • Room: GS25
  • Org Unit: Agricultural Science

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