Model of forage legume potential with indicators at macro and micro scales

Modelling legume yield

The 3 key achievements of this research to date:

  1. Development of a validated lucerne model for irrigated conditions that can be used to assess yield and quality of lucerne grown on farms in high rainfall and irrigated conditions. This work aims to empower farmers to consider using lucerne in areas of their farm that can be cultivated or irrigated to complement uncultivable hill country areas. This model will be made publicly available.
  2. A national yield map, at a gross scale that uses maps of soils and climate that has been validated across New Zealand. Once validated with previously published results, the output gives confidence that the model can be used to inform policy around climate change, environmental impacts and compared with empirical models such as Overseer to test the accuracy of current and future on-farm nutrient budgeting.
  3. A manuscript has been published with a simple thermal time model of lucerne growth based on temperature (Refer to Research quality and outputs supporting document). This provides a farmer-friendly option for individual farmers to assess potential yields of lucerne on their farm from their own temperature and rainfall data.

Micro-scale indicators

The 3 key achievements of this research to date:

  1. Development of a sensor network system that can record and transmit data for key "micro-indicators" to cloud storage data over significantly increased and functionally useful ranges (10 km) in the complex hilly landscapes typical of hill country farms.
  2. Through the installation of six of these sensor networks (at representative sites in both the North and South Islands), data is being delivered from hill country farms and/or adjacent groups of hill country farms in a range of remote locations.
    • Note that both achievements 1 and 2 are technical and don’t currently provide immediate and direct benefit to farmers, however, this work is a necessary pre-requisite to attempt farm-scale analysis of the patterns and dynamics of soil temperature and moisture in complex landscapes. They represent a significant advance for field application of this technology and the ability to measure and record information at farm-scale in the hill-country environment that can be fed into improving the timeliness and resolution of information that can feed into the on-farm decision-making process.
  3. Successful spatial modelling support for the national legume forage modelling work that is reported under RA 2.1. This has included data provision for the ‘soil input’ of the APSIM model to support the delivery of the national legume map (RA 2), which required S-map and Fundamental Soil Layers (FSL) inputs to match the 5 km x 5 km NIWA-VCN. It also included automation and scripting of the less complex empirical forage models.

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