Hill Country Futures

The “Hill Country Futures” research programme (BLNZT1701) is funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, MBIE, Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds.

The Dryland Pastures Research Group, and On-Farm Research (https://on-farmresearch.co.nz/) are currently contributing to “Regenerating Hill Country Landscapes” theme of the Hill Country Futures programme (https://www.hillcountryfutures.co.nz/). Specifically, we are working on:

  • Research Aim 2.1: Modelling forage legume yield nationally (Lucerne proof of concept),
  • Research Aim 3.1: Desktop analysis of plants for the landscape and
  • Research Aim 3.2: Evaluation of legumes in different environments.

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Development of lucerne yield and suitability maps for New Zealand (RA 2.1)

The APSIM Next Generation model was used by the Lincoln based Plant & Food Research and Landcare Research modelling teams to develop a nationwide lucerne yield map. Yield simulations were at 5 km resolution in response to 30 years of historical weather data to determine areas suitable for growing lucerne (Teixeira et al. 2020). Subsequently, annual shoot DM yield were estimated for both rainfed and irrigated soil moisture conditions.

Lucerne suitability map for New Zealand (Teixeira et al. 2020).
Annual lucerne shoot dry matter yield estimates across suitable New Zealand sites under dryland (rainfed) and irrigated (non limiting water) conditions (Teixeira et al. 2020).

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The AgYields National Database (RA 3.1)

A spin-off from this programme has been the development of the AgYields National Database, which is a national repository of crop and pasture yield data collected by staff, students and researchers at universities, crown research institutes, industry organisations and commercial businesses throughout New Zealand.

This open access database provides long-term storage and security for pasture and crop growth data, which would otherwise be lost over time. Researchers are encouraged to deposit their data by creating an account here: https://www.agyields.co.nz/home

Further information can be found here: https://www.hillcountryfutures.co.nz/resources/beef-and-lamb-knowledge-hub

Screenshot of the AgYields home page

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Legumes in different environments (RA 3.2)

For Research Aim 3.1 the DPR Group is also working with On-Farm Research in the North Island to collect and collate yield and quality data for a range of pasture species and mixtures throughout New Zealand. In addition, we are collecting a range of on-site data to quantify the environment at the sites.

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B+LNZ Factsheets

Our research has been used to prepare these factsheets, available from the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Knowledge Hub, and summarise our field research into “farm ready” messages to help with management and planning:

Pasture and animal production

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Journal Publications


  • Lui J. 2021. Modelling approaches for lucerne growth and development under dryland conditions. M.Ag.Sci. thesis, Lincoln University. 165 p.
  • Talamini MV. 2022. Understanding the physiology and agronomic performance of four perennial grass species under different nitrogen and water conditions in New Zealand drylands. PhD thesis, Lincoln University. 298 p.
  • Willis AP. 2022. Growth and development of three subterranean clover cultivars and their tolerance of herbicide application. B.Ag.Sci dissertation, Lincoln University. 98 p.
  • Babington, J. 2020. Pasture yield and quality responses to plant diversity from the second year of a multi-species mixture experiment. B.Ag.Sci. Hons dissertation. Lincoln University. 71 p.
  • Hunter S. 2020. Annual clover herbage production. B.Ag.Sci. Hons dissertation. Lincoln University. 78 p.
  • Thomas E. 2020. Long-term decline of sown species in two dryland subterranean clover-based pastures. B.Ag.Sci. Hons dissertation. Lincoln University. 62 p.
  • Yang X. 2020. Modelling phenological development, yield and quality of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) using APSIM next generation. PhD thesis, Lincoln University. 287 p. Online:
  • Averill Z. 2019. Legume response to fertiliser application. B.Ag.Sci. Hons dissertation. Lincoln University. 99 p.

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