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The publication, titled Seventy years of data from the world's longest grazed and irrigated pasture trials, has recently been published in on-line journal Scientific Data. In it, lead author Dr Richard McDowell, Principal Scientist at AgResearch, and Professor at Lincoln Science Centre, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Lincoln University, showcases resources and data that have been assimilated since 1950 at the Winchmore long-term fertiliser and irrigation trials located on the Canterbury plains.
This new publication alerts the scientific community to the data that has been generated by the world's longest running sheep grazed fertiliser and irrigation trials under consistent stable conditions. It addresses the history of the research site, the nature and breadth of data that has been assimilated over the years, and how interested researchers may make best use of this unique resource. There are roughly 96,000 records of soil chemistry and physical data, plus information on pasture yield and botanical composition.
The trial site was initially established by the New Zealand government and has been managed by AgResearch. Scientific investigation has been conducted here ever since. A wide range of organisations have had access to parts of the site, and while protecting the integrity of long-term treatments, the information and data outlined in this publication will encourage greater use and benefit from this invaluable data resource.
Grazed pastures are the most widespread land-use globally, and the research at Winchmore has local, national and international relevance. While initially established to evaluate pasture response to phosphate fertiliser and irrigation treatments, the experiments have provided additional invaluable information and resources to address topics as diverse as:
"The consistent treatments provided by this site have enabled examination of issues and impacts that would not have been foreseen 70 years ago when the site was first established," says Vera Power, Chief Executive, Fertiliser Association of New Zealand.
"The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand has taken a long-term lease of this land to ensure that the grazed phosphate fertiliser trial data will remain available for scientific research for decades to come, even though the long-term irrigation trial has been discontinued."
The manuscript is available on-line: "Scientific Data" , McDowell, R.W., Moss, R.A., Gray, C.W. et al. Seventy years of data from the world's longest grazed and irrigated pasture trials. Sci Data 8, 53 (2021).