Friday, 6 April 2018

Masters students make environment a priority


Two students from Victoria University of Wellington are working with Ravensdown to research the way nitrogen and phosphorus are managed on-farm through Ravensdown and Victoria University’s Land Use Capability Indicator (LUCI) model.

Alicia Taylor and Maggie Rogers have recently joined Ravensdown as part of the Graduate Development programme while completing their Masters, using the environmental tool.

Alicia comes from a non-farming background and after completing a Bachelor in Environmental Science at Auckland University had a chance meeting with Associate Professor Bethanna Jackson (Victoria University) who exposed Alicia to the LUCI model.

Alicia said she was keen to continue her studies in environmental science. She decided to make the focus of her Masters’ on understanding the impacts of the quality and resolution in existing spatial data sets on the accuracy of the model.

“The data sets I wanted to study include how the existing soil classification, elevation, climate and land cover impacts the accuracy of the modelling in LUCI. The resulting outcome of my research will help better understand the LUCI predictions where user’s quality of data varies over different scenarios.”

Maggie Rogers, having completed a Bachelor of Science at Victoria University, is now pursuing further studies in environmental science and geography using the LUCI model. She is seeking to understand the strengths of the tool with end users in mind. Applying the tool in real life situations and using real farmer feedback she will identify improvements that will be adapted to the model.

Maggie says her research using LUCI will enable her six farmer participants, in the Mangatarere Catchment, to better understand and manage their farm nutrients in the face of changing regulations.

“The feedback I will get from working with these farms will provide results that’ll improve both the LUCI model and its ability to integrate into wider farming practices.”

Three years ago, Ravensdown partnered with Victoria University and creator of LUCI, Associate Professor Jackson, to better identify and estimate nitrogen and phosphate losses from critical source areas (CSA’s) on-farm. The two master’s projects, undertaken by Maggie and Alicia have been supported by Ravensdown and Callaghan Innovation in conjunction with Victoria University of Wellington.