Improved methods for the assessment and prediction of grassland curing

Curing describes the annual or seasonal cycle of grasses dying and drying out. The proportion of cured material in grassland fuel (indicated by a “curing value”) is a critical input into both Australian and New Zealand grassland fire behaviour models and fire danger rating systems.

This project developed improved methods for the prediction of grassland curing as an input into fire danger rating systems and fire behaviour models in Australia and New Zealand.

Scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia and at Scion in New Zealand utilised remote sensing technology and pasture/grass growth models to assess curing levels in grasslands.

The outcomes from this research have provided improvements to current remote sensing methods. It also developed new information on the use of thermal imagery and moisture relationships. Many of these outcomes are being validated and trialled in the field by fire and land management agencies both in Australia and New Zealand.

Danielle Martin of RMIT University worked on developing satellite vegetation indices to assess grassland curing for her PhD. Helen Daly’s PhD through the University of Tasmania adapted agricultural modelling tools to predict curing rates across temperate grasslands of southern Australia and New Zealand.

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New Zealand’s grass fires are the target of new collaborative research with Australia. The study involving research scientists and fire agencies in collaboration uses state-of-the-art technology to help more accurately predict and plan for grassland fires.