Scientists talk with precision

By Jo Cuttance

In Crops and Forage2 Minutes

WARREN KING’S PRESIDENTIAL address at the NZ Grassland Association conference was reflective.

He said people are not just informed by their past, but also by the people who have been there before, their thinking and their knowledge.

“We are very much informed by what has gone before,” King said.

He played a recording of founder of Grasslands, botanist and agricultural scientist Alfred Cockayne speaking at a time when the association’s conference was of such importance it was played on the radio.

King said that though the language had changed, much of what was said still resonated today. For example, herbage age was critical for milk production, and pasture management for keeping pasture in a juvenile state.

King said scientists now talked with precision. They had greater insight, more tools, and could account with mathematical accuracy for production, animal demands, and much more.

He asked what the future would look like if we fast forwarded 85 years and dropped ourselves into the landscape – would we recognise what was going on?

From many possible answers, he gave two: Yes, scientists would continue to innovate, develop new technology and be better, particularly in respect to emissions footprint, water quality, adaptation, and climate change scenarios.

The counter answer was: No, the landscape may or may not involve ruminants in key parts of our landscapes.

“Either way, this is a really critical time,” King said.