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Sue Walker

Honorary Professor, Faculty of Science

Contact

  • workCFF, Level 2 Block B
    Malaysia Campus
    Jalan Broga
    43500 Semenyih
    Selangor Darul Ehsan
    Malaysia
  • work+6 (03) 8924 8799
  • fax+6(03)89248798

Biography

Professor Sue Walker is Research Theme Leader for Agrometeorology and Ecophysiology and the Programme Director for CropBASE at Crops For the Future, Semenyih, Malaysia. She has wide experience in agrometeorological across Southern and East Africa, including crop-climate modelling and Agromet services for farmers, focusing on semi-arid conditions.

She is Professor Emeritus for Agricultural Meteorology at the University of the Free State, in Bloemfontein, South Africa where she has supervised 15 PhD students in 15 years.

She was appointed as an Honorary Professor in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.

From 1983-1998, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for her PhD in Plant Physiology at the University of California, Davis, USA. Professor Walker was the Chairperson of WMO-CAgM OPAG "Agrometeorological Services for Agricultural Production" and the South African representative to WMO-CAgM from 1998 until 2014 and a member of CAgM Management Group, from 2006 to 2014. She is also a member of the International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) Working Group on Global Climate Change and Agricultural Water Management, as representative from South Africa.

She was made a Fellow of South African Society of Crop Production, in January 2010 for good service provided to agriculture.

Teaching Summary

Agrometeorology Courses Taught, at Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences, at University of the Free State (details of content available on request)

Undergraduate Level B.Sc. level (all 4 credits, 3 h lecture & 3h lab per week)

2nd year: Introduction to Agrometeorology;

3rd year: Climate and Decision Making;

Crop Growth Modeling;

Climate Change and Variability.

4th year: Operational Agrometeorology

Micrometeorology.

Seminar (literature review) Course.

Masters level modules in Agrometeorology (5th year of study = course work for Masters)

Supervision of Research Project & Literature Study & Seminar;

Master level class work:

Agromet Services for Extension;

Specialised Instrumentation;

Applied Agricultural Agrometeorology.

Other Masters Level Courses for Masters degrees in other departments (mostly part-time students under distance learning)

Masters in Sustainable Agriculture

Management & utilization of climate as a natural resource for sustainable agricultural production

Masters in Environmental Management

Atmospheric Science

Masters in Disaster Management

Management of drought disasters,

Management of climate and fire (use of weather data to calculate indices),

Management of weather data for proactive disaster management

Masters in Property Science

Land Evaluation: Properties of climate (overview) and Local climate and Climate modification

Masters in Irrigation Science

Basic principles of the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum; Influence of climate on the choice of irrigation crops; Water requirements and use of irrigation crops; Methods of irrigation scheduling: climatic approaches; Results of under and over irrigation of crops; Cell water relations; Movement of water in plants; Evapotranspiration; Water use efficiency; Water stress; and Drought Resistance

Research Summary

Development of interactive, searchable database for underutilised crops. It includes an engine for the computations and comparisons of alternative crops and cropping systems, as well as a query… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

Development of interactive, searchable database for underutilised crops. It includes an engine for the computations and comparisons of alternative crops and cropping systems, as well as a query search system that can provide intelligent solutions to questions about the selection of crops both under the current climate and future projected climate scenarios.

Research at landscape scale for diversification of farming systems for global change applications

Crop modeling - calibration, validation, of models for underutilised crops and intercropping systems, climate change and variability application,

Past Research

My completed research comes from my broad perspective of the definition of "AgroMet" which includes basic environmental and agricultural sciences as well as applications and communication with users. Thus as I see it, Agromet spans a range of both time and spatial scales as well as physical and social sciences. My research is centered on evidence-based scientific research from field measurements and monitoring through modelling to development of decision support systems to provide Agromet services for end-users.

Research Expertise:

Research in the field of crop physiology (underutilised crops), Agrometeorology and developing agriculture.

Water use of crops (including water harvesting) and drought adaptations.

Use of seasonal forecasts by farmers in the semi-arid regions of Africa.

Modelling of crop growth and development and water use of agronomic crops, including intercropping systems, climate change applications, water harvesting and irrigation scheduling.

Development of decision support tools to deliver of Agromet services to Farmers & other users.

Micrometeorology and water relations in the soil/plant/atmosphere continuum, including measurement of water potential components and water flow for agronomic and alternative under-utilized crops and fruit trees.

The use of Farm Systems Research and Extension; Participatory Rural Appraisal and Action Research methods.

Future Research

My research continues on the application of agrometeorological principles to farming systems, although the focus is now on alternative crops, not the staples maize, wheat and rice. This has provided an opportunity to use my crop modelling skills and expertise as we continue to develop and calibrate models for the underutilized crops. While at UFS, we had started with pearl millet and amaranth, and now we are continuing with minor millets (including proso and finger millet in Sri Lanka and Uganda respectively) as well as other leafy vegetables and legumes. Some of this focus, also returns me to the research I did on intercropping (1994-2008) in both field trials and modelling, so this is a good opportunity to use my prior experience and expertise. However, the new challenge is to include perennial crops (such as Napier grass, Moringa, Leucaena, oil palm etc) together with the annual crops. So we need to return to the work done by Tsubo and myself on the interaction and limiting factors of radiation and water use of crops as they grow alongside each other. Some of the focus, is also on multiple use, not only for food but also for biomass and green chemical production, so this is an added challenge. However, the physical environmental principles of radiation and water use efficiency remain unchanged, so they can be applied whether to the tree crops or the annuals planted between them.

My vision at Crops For the Future, is also to develop an interactive knowledge platform, CropBASE, that can store the information about the alternative crops. It will also provide a modelling, calculation and manipulation engine to make the crop modelling operational via internet and on a spatial basis in a GIS for many regions of the world and to include climate change scenarios. Another challenge is to include a query search system that can provide intelligent solutions to questions about the selection of crops both under the current climate and future projected climate scenarios. CropBASE will not only be limited to climate-crop interactions, but also include genetic information, nutrient composition, post-harvest and processing methods, marketing and economic values about the underutilized crops. Therefore CropBASE will enable a wide range of scientists to share common information and develop linkages and broaden the applications to include multi-disciplinary aspects and influences. So it will stretch across the research value chain from genetics and breeding through agronomy, environment and systems to include the socio-economic and policy aspects. In addition to this, we will include alternative types of data, for instance local or indigenous knowledge not previously documented from the communities, remote sensing data, bar coded or ascetic code information, which means that my new team includes computer scientists, engineers, sociologists, and economists etc. So the action plan is to build a knowledge base that will serve firstly the research community working on underutilized crops, then the farmers and growers and address processing and marketing aspects as well as bringing the livelihoods aspects into focus.

This international acknowledgement of my expertise provides the advantaged of many linkages with other specialists from south-east Asia, as well as world wide, and this will help to promote our work towards sustainable agricultural systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, I am privileged to be working with a multi-disciplinary team situated across the world. At present, I am involved in projects in Sri Lanka, SADC, Peru, Uganda, UK, and Malaysia. They range from crop field trials (both intercropping and sole cropping), modelling and environmental aspects of agricultural versus natural systems as affected by climate change as well as overseeing the development of the CropBASE knowledge system.

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LE12 5RD, UK

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