Monday, 15 April 2024 14:25

New tech tool readying growers for climate change

Written by  Staff Reporters
The new tool provides a ‘farm level’ view of plant disease risk under a changing climate The new tool provides a ‘farm level’ view of plant disease risk under a changing climate

A free interactive tool has been launched to provide grape and apple growers with information on how climate change may affect the risks and costs of living with common plant diseases in different parts of New Zealand.

Created as part of the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, the ‘Changing Climate: Disease Risk & Costs’ tool allows people to enter their vineyard’s address to view the risk of powdery mildew and botrytis on their crops under different climate change scenarios.

It also translates that risk into financial terms, helping people understand how climate change may affect the cost of managing plant diseases on their land in the decades ahead. “In simple terms it’s a portal into the future,” says Mike Barley, Director of New Zealand agri-tech company HortPlus. “It helps with climate adaptation planning and provides easy to digest information for people in the apple and winegrowing industry who want to understand how plant disease risks are likely to change, and importantly, what the cost implications of those changes might be.”

HortPlus developed the tool in collaboration with Plant & Food Research (disease models, Te Ao Māori), NIWA (climate models), The Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (economic modelling), and Applied Research & Technologies (disease model reviews). Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit researcher John Saunders said the tool’s combination of GIS risk mapping and climate, disease and economic modelling made it unique.

“The aim is to let people get a bit of an idea about what the future holds before it arrives. If you are buying a house, you would check flood maps. Why shouldn’t we have rich information about the likely impact of plant diseases for horticulturalists?”

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