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Matthew Tom Harrison

Associate Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, University of Tasmania

Associate Professor Matthew Harrison is Systems Modelling Team Leader at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) in Burnie, Tasmania.

Matt is internationally renowned for his work in improving the sustainability of agricultural systems through the development of innovative economic, environmental and social solutions to demand-driven problems.

Matt leads a transdisciplinary team of scientists, including farming systems modellers, spatial scientists, animal scientists and a biometrician. He collaborates with social scientists, private consultants, economists, agronomists and software engineers. At present, Matt’s team collectively supervises 15 PhD students and collaborates widely with other national and international partners. Matt strongly believes in generating science-based outcomes in forms that are actionable by policy-makers.

Matt has received many prestigious awards for his work on climate change adaptation of agricultural systems and on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Part of this work has included the development of participatory win-win approaches for environmental stewardship, greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and improved profitability of livestock systems in Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Indonesia, Argentina, the US and Europe, such as environmental plantings for improved carbon sequestration in soils and in vegetation.

His work on the adaptation of agricultural systems to extreme climatic events has been recognised by the international scientific community, including the IPCC, multi-national scientific consortia and State and Commonwealth Governments. His team frequently work with industry, including farmers, advisors and the broader agricultural sector to develop new skills, technologies and practices for biophysical, social, economic and environmental pathways to carbon neutrality (or net-zero emissions).

Matt is the Director of the Carbon Storage Partnership, a multi-party $30M transdisciplinary research, development and extension programme designed to develop socially-acceptable interventions for improving environmental stewardship, mitigating livestock emissions, sequestering soil carbon and improving natural capital on farm. Success of this work will be evidenced by the achievement of a carbon neutral livestock sector for the entire Australian continent by 2030.

Matt’s team has also developed several disruptive technologies, including those that use machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data, decision analytics and decision-support tools. These technologies are being used by decision-makers for more timely tactical management (e.g. irrigation and fertiliser scheduling) but also long-term strategic fore-sighting, such as contrasting alternative investment decisions in irrigation infrastructure. The combination of more effective decision making has improved the sustainability, profitability and social-acceptability of many farms in Australia and overseas.

Matt sits on numerous scientific advisory boards, including those for industry, government and international research programmes aimed at carbon neutrality. He has authored more than 210 publications.

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Research Fellow in Agricultural Farming Systems, University of Tasmania

Education

  • 2010 
    Australian National University, PhD / agricultural systems modelling