New web based tool supports land use decision making

MyLand Project Update - 30 September 2012

Crown Research Institute Scion is working with key agricultural partners to develop a tool called “MyLand” which will help farmers and growers make good long-term decisions about their land use.

MyLand, which is at the working prototype stage, integrates many new technologies, research results and land resource information, and makes these available on a home computer.

A Beta version of the software is now undergoing evaluation and user testing.

MyLand will enable land managers to weigh up long-term economic and environmental considerations as they look at different land use options. These could include combining hill country sheep farming with forest woodlots, or stream-side planting on dairy farms.

The software project has received backing from several organisations keen to support farmers to explore sustainable land options, particularly in areas where soil erosion and water quality are causing problems.

Project leader Graham West says MyLand offers a good fit with regional sustainable land-use initiatives.

“Sustainable land use often means making long-term changes. Land managers need to think about how different objectives and goals can be analysed and how the transition can be afforded,” he explains.

Land-use change has practical and often economic implications. The geographical database underpinning MyLand is powerful in providing land resource information and visualising different scenarios.”
MyLand overcomes many past hurdles by integrating results from research into land capability, environmental impacts, agricultural systems and forestry options. It also enables a user to consider multiple land uses down to a paddock level. It is a framework that could be extended to any combination of land-use options.

Graham says the tool is designed to be used by landowners or their advisors, to easily evaluate the trade-offs between profitability and environmental impacts. An industry steering group has been important in guiding MyLand’s development over the past three years.

“Land owners will be able to view high-quality aerial photos of their property, establish paddock sizes and resources such as soil type, input estimates of their production and explore scenarios for more sustainable land uses,” he explains.

“The agricultural sector already has access to many tools that support short term operational farming decisions, but this is the first system that can be used to make long term, inter-generational decisions that include forestry options.”

The software was originally developed by Scion and AgResearch as a prototype strategic land use decision tool, funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, through a Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change, (SLMACC) grant.

Funding to develop the Beta version has been granted by the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the Envirolink scheme with Regional Council support, aimed at facilitating the uptake of land-use research.

For further information, please contact:
Graham West - Project Leader, Phone: 07 343 5674, mobile 027-4410353