Systems Modeller
Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7441 (Direct)


To apply systems thinking to the sugarcane production value chain to identify opportunities for improved efficiencies, to drive more profitable sugarcane production by sugarcane growers and other industry stakeholders; by developing and applying models of sugarcane crop growth, pest risk and other aspects to explore strategic research questions across a range of themes, including crop physiology, pest impacts, yield dynamics and climate change, at scales ranging from individual fields to the whole industry.


• Sugarcane model development
• Sugarcane model application
• Decision Support Program development
• Data analytics and visualisation with R
• Software development/prototyping using Fortran and R
• Data management

Research Interests

• Understanding and predicting genotypic, environmental and genotype-by-environment interaction effects on simple and complex phenotypes using crop growth simulation models.
• Modelling of pest damage risk.
• Assessment of climate change impacts and exploration of adaptation strategies.
• Improving data infrastructure for more accurate point-to-region upscaling studies supporting “big data” analytics for improving sugarcane production efficiencies in the South African sugar industry.
• Sugarcane production and yield dynamics in the South African sugar industry.
• Production of bio-ethanol and cogeneration of electricity from sugarcane.

Key Publications

Jones, M. R., Singels, A., Chinorumba, S., Poser, C., Christina, M., Shine, J., Annandale, J., & Hammer, G. L. (2021). Evaluating process-based sugarcane models for simulating genotypic and environmental effects observed in an international dataset. Field Crops Research, 260(April 2020), 107983.

Jones, M. R., Singels, A., Chinorumba, S., Patton, A., Poser, C., Singh, M., Martiné, J. F., Christina, M., Shine, J., Annandale, J., & Hammer, G. (2019). Exploring process-level genotypic and environmental effects on sugarcane yield using an international experimental dataset. Field Crops Research, 244.

Jones, M. R., & Singels, A. (2018). Refining the Canegro model for improved simulation of climate change impacts on sugarcane. European Journal of Agronomy.

Jones, M. R., & Singels, A. (2015). Analysing yield trends in the South African sugar industry. Agricultural Systems, 141.

Jones, M. R., Singels, A., & Ruane, A. C. (2015). Simulated impacts of climate change on water use and yield of irrigated sugarcane in South Africa. Agricultural Systems, 139, 260–270.

Jones, M. R., & Singels, A. (2014). A preliminary assessment of mid-century climate change impacts on sugarcane production in South Africa. Proceedings of the Annual Congress – South African Sugar Technologists’ Association, No.87, 290–297.

Jones, M. R. (2013). Incorporating the Canegro sugarcane model into the DSSAT v4 Cropping System Model framework. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Jones, M., Porter, C., Jones, J. W., Hoogenboom, G., Singels, A., Shine, J., Nayamuth, R., Kingston, G., Chinorumba, S., & Berg, M. van den. (2007). Incorporating the Canegro sugarcane model into the DSSAT V4 crop modelling system. In XXVI Congress, International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, ICC, Durban, South Africa, 29 July – 2 August, 2007 (pp. 438–443). International Society Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT).

Singels, A., van den Berg, M., Smit, M. A., Jones, M. R., & van Antwerpen, R. (2010). Modelling water uptake, growth and sucrose accumulation of sugarcane subjected to water stress. Field Crops Research, 117(1), 59–69.


  • MSc Agrometeorology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermartizburg.
  • BSc (Hons) Computer Science, University of Natal, Durban.
  • B.Sc Computer Science & Economics, University of Natal, Durban.

Currently registered for a Ph.D in Agronomy, University of Pretoria, supervised by Abraham Singels (UP), John Annandale (UP) and Graeme Hammer (UQ).