A new national forage database has been launched to help farmers and rural professionals make informed decisions around pasture planning.
AgYields www.agyields.co.nz is a central repository for all pasture and crop yield data and growth rate information collected in New Zealand. It allows farmers to see which pastures and crops have been grown in their districts and how much they grew so they can select more resilient pasture and crop systems.
Led by Professor Derrick Moot of Lincoln University, the software development of AgYields was funded by T R Ellett Trust and the populating of data by the Hill Country Futures Partnership programme.
Professor Moot said that AgYields will help farmers, rural professionals, students and scientists make key decisions around pasture planning.
“Measuring yield and growth rates for pastures and crops is vital for the prosperity of New Zealand’s agricultural sector.
“This data is expensive to collect and are often stored across a range of electronic and physical platforms, making it difficult to access easily. For the first time, the AgYields website consolidates this data into a publicly accessible resource.
“In time, AgYields will also provide guidelines for standardising future data collection and enhancing New Zealand’s livestock and crop production systems.”
Mhairi Sutherland, programme leader for Hill Country Futures, an $8.1m programme co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, PGG Wrightson Seeds and Seed Force New Zealand, says AgYields will be an important tool for hill country farmers.
“Hill Country Futures is focused on future proofing the profitability, sustainability and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities and AgYields will play an important role in helping us meet this goal.
“Individual farms need local data on different species to inform feed budgeting programmes and make appropriate species selections for different environments.
“Accessing data about a range of species will help farmers select appropriate species to address climate change challenges and work within environmental regulations.”
Dr Suzi Keeling, sector science strategy manager at Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says AgYields provides a valuable resource for farmers, researchers, and rural professionals.
“All too often, data is lost or forgotten. Having a central repository means better decisions and smarter use of future investments.”
The database includes both peer-reviewed published data, as well as unpublished data. It references data source, location, soil type, basic management practices and dominant species.
Scientists can link yield and flowering data with meteorological information. This will generate information for pasture and crop growth forecasting and predicting the impacts of drought on growth and development to inform regional decision making.
Data is being collected from a number of research and farm locations and will be entered into the database.
Individuals and organisations are also being invited to contribute their data to enhance the utility of the repository.
Dr David Chapman and Dr Wendy Griffiths of DairyNZ and Dr Mike Dodd of AgResearch also assisted in the development of AgYields. It is among a range of new tools to support farmers and consultants that will be among the outcomes of the Hill Country Futures Partnership.