• Hawke's Bay drought indicator app breaks ground as first of its kind in New Zealand

Hawke's Bay drought indicator app breaks ground as first of its kind in New Zealand

A free-to-use drought indicator app aimed at building resilience within the region's rural community has become the first of its kind in the country.

The app was designed by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council in partnership with the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group and with funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries. 

Group Manager of Integrated Catchment Management Iain Maxwell says it is a great way for farmers to get a pulse check on the key climate conditions on their farm and wider area and support their planning for dry conditions and drought.

“Last year’s severe drought did catch out some in our rural community and showed us that more tools were required for our farmers to prepare and plan for drought. That is why we have developed this tool.”

Watch this video that explains how the app works. Video/Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

The tool shows a ‘traffic light warning system’ for drought based on live rainfall, soil temperature, soil moisture, and evapotranspiration data from the council’s 50 climate stations around the region.

“It is intended to take the hassle out of accessing regional climate data for our farmers, and for them to be able to go to one place and get a live view of climate conditions,” said Mr Maxwell.

Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group chair Lochie MacGillivray says the drought indicator is a fantastic tool that will support farmers to make decisions early and plan for drought.

The drought indicator app in action. Photo/Hawke's Bay Regional Council. 

The launch of the tool is timely as the region is experiencing concerning dry conditions, particularly in Coastal Hawke’s Bay as well as areas to the west of Hastings, Mr MacGillivray said.

The drought indicator shows Crownthorpe has the lowest soil moisture data recorded for the last 18 years and will reach a stress point of limited pasture growth in 16 days if there is no rain.

“For farmers in this area, we would be recommending that they put together a feed budget and a plan for drought, and access the support of primary sector organisations if required.”

“We hope that this tool will be well used by the rural community, give them a forward-looking view of the dry conditions on farm, and help them to make those tough decisions early,” he said.

Access the tool here