Agent-based modelling of land use policy effects

Investigating the effects on land use, farm profitability and environmental outcomes of government policies

In this project, you will combine whole-farm economic modelling and hydrologic models (for example SWAT) to evaluate land use change policies in an integrated way. This allows assessments of both economic and environmental outcomes.

You will need to collect data for a study catchment; calibrate economic and hydrological models; and identify a set of regulatory and/or incentive-based policy instruments for land use change.

Policies evaluated could be aiming at water quality, dryland salinity, carbon sequestration, etc.



For more background information see the suggested readings below.

The purpose is to use a consistent and empirically based framework that helps identify the complex effects of policies, market prices and biophysical factors on:

  • crop and livestock mix on farms
  • farm input use and output changes
  • farm cost, revenue and profitability
  • government expenditures on conservation
  • environmental outcomes including nutrient leaching, water recharge and vegetation mix

Policy instruments explored may include direct regulation of land use or incentive-based instruments such as subsidies for perennial covers or grasslands, one-off planting incentives, input/output subsidies and taxes.

Suggested readings

Research team leader: Associate Professor Atakelty Hailu

I am an agricultural and resource economist with research interests in several areas: efficiency and productivity analysis; agriculture and land use policy; recreational fishing; water and environmental policy; bushfire and natural hazards management; and auction design. My research tools include econometric analysis, stochastic frontier models, data envelopment analysis (DEA), whole-farm and other bio-economic models, and agent-based simulations of economic behaviour.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project include:

  • Good background in hydrology and production economics, or good background in one of these areas combined with a strong desire for independent learning in the other.
  • The student should be able to take the leadership role in setting up the data sets and calibrating the hydrologic model for the catchment of their choice. The School has economic and hydrologic data sets for the Katanning Region of Western Australia.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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