Hamish’s objective was to identify a high quality forage species that could be used to increase production in dryland grazing systems of the east coast of New Zealand. Lucerne (Medicago sativa), chicory (Cichorium intybus) and red clover (Trifolium pratense) were grown under irrigated and dryland conditions and the most successful species selected. Success was determined by a combination of annual yield and its seasonal distribution, herbage quality and utilisation by grazing stock. Measurements were also made to help explain dryland yield differences. The secondary aim was to explain how water shortages affected forage yield and a detailed examination of this was carried out on lucerne. This analysis initially examined the influence of environmental factors on growth and development under irrigated conditions to explain non-water limited forage yield potential. Water shortages were then quantified and related to yield forming processes to explain the mechanism by which water stress reduced forage yields below potential.
Hamish currently works as a crop modelling scientist at The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd.