The second day of Conference will certainly keep the momentum going, kicking straight off with our second keynote speaker. Dr Seth Laurenson, AgResearch, will join us to explore transforming landscapes using digital technologies and visualisation.
Seth is a senior scientist and Science Impact Leader for Soil and Water at AgResearch, with a background in soil and water dynamics. He gained his PhD in soil science from the University of South Australia, where he investigated the impact of saline irrigation use in vineyards around Adelaide’s peri-urban fringe.
At AgResearch Seth’s work has focused on the physical health of soils under pastoral grazing systems and how farmers can mitigate against contaminant losses from critical source areas and vulnerable landscapes.
Seth’s research now focuses on how environmental dynamics operate at a landscape level, with a keen interest on understanding how productive landscapes design can better incorporate a wider range of well-beings beyond production alone. For example, how landscapes can remain productive and provide biodiversity or aesthetic value to communities as well as deliver desirable water quality.
Seth has been using a combination of animation techniques, coupled with models and spatial layers to build visualisation tools designed to support land use decision-making. Hyperfarm is a tool being developed by AgResearch currently, in collaboration with Animation Research Limited, that allows users to explore new land use activities on their property such as hop growing, agro-forestry or tourism ventures. Hyperfarm helps landowners to dream of a new future while also understanding trade-offs such as economic, social or environmental consequences.
Seth is also leading a visualisation programme within Our Land and Our Water called Pohewa Pae Tawhiti (Visualising Horizons).
Tools like these act as catalysts for discussion about change by providing the how, what and where. They simplify the complex and provide the visual realism and clarity to discussions that might take place across the kitchen table, in the boardroom or amongst family and community groups. Being able to simulate our land and its unique circumstances helps landowners to prioritise what is important in their decision-making process and, more importantly, eliminate clutter and distractions to come to an objective outcome informed by science.