Data as varied as a suitability index for growing cherries across the regions to levels of sediment loads in New Zealand rivers has been unlocked in a “data supermarket” funded through Our Land and Water National Science Challenge.
Now online for open access, the supermarket contains a wide variety of data that has been publicly funded between 2020 and 2023s, but often shelved in hard-to-find places or difficult to access.
AgResearch senior scientist Dr Robyn Dynes said the supermarket is an effort across many disciplines and institutes to bring the many and varied data projects to light, making them accessible to, among other things, better aiding future land use decisions in NZ.
Dynes said the data supermarket offers anyone who is looking at land use options data that enables them to use science to examine their options with more clarity, and help with the inevitable risk involved.
So far the data repository includes data from seven animal-based industries, five arable-vegetable and four fruit, forestry and tree crop sectors. Dynes said this is added to every week.
“Farm advisers with good technical skills will be able to use the data to create a short list of potential land-use options that may be feasible for their clients to consider as candidates for in-depth business cases from local experts,” Dynes said.
She said a couple of farm advisers are already using the data market to help clients determine their land use options. The data access also enables those with the skills to overlay different land use types to create a mosaic of options in specific regions or districts.
Upcoming data types will include work that models the effects of climate change, including changes in potential pasture yields across New Zealand and alternative arable crop rotations.
Reports specific to climate change include a land use impact report, forest fire risk projections, and even look up tables to estimate carbon sequestration in forests.
Dynes said the supermarket also aims to try to account for the more holistic approach land use changes are likely to lead to in coming years.
After a history of rapid land use change that has usually been driven by the best return capable of being generated, future use is likely to be more nuanced and conscious of human and environmental impacts.
“At the moment we are focusing on what you could grow, which is not always what you should grow.”
Over time more reports and data that capture the more holistic elements of land use will become available.
Dynes said having a common source for such data also provides a valuable levelling tool for parties engaged in land use change, including iwi and community groups, helping balance negotiating capabilities as change is proposed.
Our Land and Water is one of 11 National Science Challenges focusing on defined issues of national importance, identified by the NZ public.
The data supermarket can be accessed here.