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David Parsons

David Parsons
I study crop science, particularly forages. 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. As a result, my research topics are diverse, interdisciplinary, and include various types of crops in both temperate and tropical environments.

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

- MDPI Agriculture


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’s 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 I am focusing on developing research projects that can lead to positive results for Swedish agriculture.

A person is squatting in a field and is looking at a grass. Photo.


Elsa Lagerquist - PhD student. "Under-sown leguminous forage crops and reduced tillage in organic farming – the design and evaluation of an innovative cropping system"

Brooke Micke - PhD student - "Improving the sustainable use of forage legumes in Swedish agricultural systems "

Selected publications

Recent 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. In Press.

Nicholson CF, Stephens EC, Kopainsky B, et al. Food security outcomes in agricultural systems models: Case examples and priority information needs. Agricultural Systems. 2021;188:103030. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2020.103030

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

Jahangirlou MR, Akbari GA, Alahdadi I, Soufizadeh S, Parsons D. Grain Quality of Maize Cultivars as a Function of Planting Dates, Irrigation and Nitrogen Stress: A Case Study from Semiarid Conditions of Iran. Agriculture. 2020;11(1):11. doi:10.3390/agriculture11010011

Le Phi Khanh H, Corfield J, Lane P, Ba NX, Van NH, Parsons D. Intensive forage cultivation reduces labour input and increases cattle production income in smallholder mixed farming communities of South Central Coastal Vietnam. Journal of Agriculture and Food Research. 2020;2:100067. doi:10.1016/j.jafr.2020.100067

Meurer K, Barron J, Chenu C, et al. A framework for modelling soil structure dynamics induced by biological activity. Glob Change Biol. 2020;26(10):5382-5403. doi:10.1111/gcb.15289

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

Morel J, Parsons D, Halling MA, et al. Challenges for Simulating Growth and Phenology of Silage Maize in a Nordic Climate with APSIM. Agronomy. 2020;10(5):645. doi:10.3390/agronomy10050645

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


Professor at the Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden; Crop Production Unit
Telephone: +46907868714
Postal address:
Inst för NJV, avd för växtodling,
90183 UMEÅ
Visiting address: Skogsmarksgränd, Umeå

Publications list: