19 Oct 2008

Call for national farm forecasting system

8:56 pm on 19 October 2008

A Marlborough Agricultural and Climate Consultant is calling for the development of a national production monitoring and forecasting system, so that the country is better prepared to deal with events such as this year's drought.

Ian Blair has been using a computer modelling system that he started 15 years ago to forecast pasture production in the persistently dry Marlborough region.

He draws on a range of climatic data but also includes a herbage production formula that builds in factors such as temperature and soil moisture.

Mr Blair says it goes a step further than other climate monitoring and forecasting services.

But his coverage is limited to Marlborough, Nelson and North Canterbury.

And Mr Blair says the concept needs to be picked up by Government or a national agency so it can be applied to all regions.

He says he's taken climate data that's already available and moved it into a production cycle.

Mr Blair says there's a need for a government or quasi-government agency to look at climate predictions to look at climate's affect on things like milk production capacity, wine yields and pasture production.

He says if that information is available farmers and growers can plan ahead and try to avoid some of the problems such as those in Waikato last year.

Mr Blair says the herbage production model is also useful in detecting the effects of climate change.