Val’s current research ranges from the very applied to that more theoretical. In more applied research, Val currently serves as Science Lead for the pastoral industries in an applied inter-disciplinary project called the “Matrix of Good Management” which aims to facilitate the primary land users in Canterbury to agree on a common set of good management practices – the estimated (modelled) leaching losses from farms managed to these standards will then become a regulatory target for all farmers in the region. The project is collaborative across various disciplines from the regional council (planning, legal, IT, land and water science, community engagement), several national industry-good bodies (policy, economics) and other research institutes (soil resources, systems modelling in various land uses). Val has also led or contributed to the design and implementation of several industry-focused decision or learning support systems concerning the environmentally safe usage of pesticides, forecasting of pasture growth rates for sheep and beef farms, methods for estimating the leaching loss of N from soils and a system for sheep farmers to diagnose the causes of performance loss in lamb production systems.
Much of Val’s more theoretical work is concerned with methods and technologies to improve the mechanistic modelling of grazed pasture systems. In this role she currently leads the FACCE-JPI project “Models4Pastures”, which, with partners from Europe and collaborators around the world, is undertaking an international model intercomparison and benchmarking concerning the performance of mechanistic pasture models to simulate pasture production, N2O emissions and changes in soil carbon.