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David Parsons

I study crop science, particularly forages, using tools such as field research, systems modelling, and remote sensing. More broadly, I am interested in the functioning of agricultural systems.


Undergraduate teaching in forages

NOVA PhD course: Dynamic modelling of cropping systems


My research is focused on systems: understanding how different elements of the system interact (e.g. plants, soils, livestock, people), and how we can best manage them to achieve desirable outcomes. 

I am interested in the trade-offs between biological, social, economic, and human components of agricultural systems, and how they interact to contribute to sustainability. I aim to engage in applied research, which is framed from the perspective of the end-user and co-developed using participatory processes.

Key Research Interests:
- Forage and crop agronomy
- Crop-livestock interactions
- Systems modelling
- Biodiversity of forage legume species
- Remote sensing of forage crops


Editorial board membership:

- Agricultural Systems

- Journal of Agriculture and Food Research



I grew up in Tasmania, Australia, and completed an undergraduate agricultural science degree there. I subsequently worked as a forage agronomist for the Falkland Islands Government, investigating adapted pasture legume species for the challenging environment. I then returned to Australia as an agronomist for a private farming company, working with pastures, beef cattle, and cropping. My Master degree was completed at Cornell University, developing farmer-useable tools for forage quality prediction in North-eastern USA. My PhD studies were also with Cornell University, with the research focused on modelling the biophysical and economic impacts of crop-livestock shifting cultivations systems in Yucatan, Mexico. I then moved back to Tasmania, to work for the University of Tasmania, conducting research in the areas of farming systems, smallholder crop-livestock systems, whole farm modelling, crop modelling, forage agronomy, and climate change adaptation. In particular, I led research projects in Central Vietnam, developing profitable and sustainable beef cattle production. In April 2016 I joined SLU, and focus on applied research projects that can lead to positive results for Swedish agriculture.


Sanna Bergqvist - PhD student - "Using sensor technologies to assess forage crops in both research and farm settings"

Kajsa Svensson - PhD student - "Genomic screening of traits for increased seed yield in red clover"


Selected publications

Selected Publications

Sun S, Liang N, Zuo Z, Parsons D, Morel J, Shi J, Wang Z, Luo L, Zhao, L, Fang H, He Y, Zhou Z. Estimation of botanical composition in mixed clover-grass fields using machine learning-based image analysis. Frontiers in Plant Science. 2021. 12:622429.

Nicholson CF, Stephens EC, Jones AD, Kopainsky B, Parsons D, Garrett J. Food security outcomes in agricultural systems models: Current status and recommended improvements. Agricultural Systems. 2021;188:103028. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2020.103028

Chen S, Du T, Wang S, et al. Quantifying the effects of spatial-temporal variability of soil properties on crop growth in management zones within an irrigated maize field in Northwest China. Agricultural Water Management. 2021;244:106535. doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2020.106535

Nicholson CF, Kopainsky B, Stephens EC, et al. Conceptual frameworks linking agriculture and food security. Nat Food. 2020;1(9):541-551. doi:10.1038/s43016-020-00142-3

Chen S, Du T, Wang S, et al. Evaluation and simulation of spatial variability of soil property effects on deep percolation and nitrate leaching within a large-scale field in arid Northwest China. Science of The Total Environment. 2020;732:139324. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139324

Martin G, Barth K, Benoit M, et al. Potential of multi-species livestock farming to improve the sustainability of livestock farms: A review. Agricultural Systems. 2020;181:102821. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2020.102821


Publications list: