Soils and land use
AgResearch has positioned itself as the lead provider in farm scale land evaluation and planning to both the industry (Project green, Beef + Lamb NZ LEP Toolkit) and to Regional Councils The goal is to optimise land use while minimising the environmental footprint of that land use. There is a strong connection to on-farm environmental management systems through to market specifications.
The ongoing refinements to land evaluation and spatial planning tools for use by the pastoral sector have been extended to include remote sensing and urine and dung sensors linked to GPS to define and quantify areas of non-point source nutrient emissions.
Inclusion of land resource information in the current nutrient budgeting and planning process is an emerging activity offered through collaborations with the fertiliser industry, regional councils and in the future through the Environmental Footprinting Centre.
The team is actively involved in the debate on the protection of high class land for pasture agriculture, alongside the history of the protection of soils from the impacts of intensive agriculture and climatic extremes through vegetation management.
The debate on the wise use of the country's natural resources through the use of new capabilities developed in the quantification and valuation of the ecosystem service and natural capital of soils is an emerging activity within the Climate, Land and Environment section through a collaboration with SLURI and the Ecological Economics Research NZ. It offers a new tool in land evaluation and planning. The approach has the potential to add utility to the current suite of soil quality indicators and to replace existing methods for land valuation.
Exploring “Anthropogenic pedogenesis” adds a new dimension to soil science and land development which, for the last 1000 years, has been about removing limitations (wetness, drought, contour, removing stones, etc). In the future, it will be focused on increasing the natural capital of soil and enhancing ecosystem services from the land.