Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valuable agricultural information now available online


AGRICULTURAL planners, researchers, extension officers and others involved in agricultural production will now have access to altitudinal range of over 200 economical crops in Papua New Guinea.
This is possible after the publication of a paper titled Altitudinal limits of 230 economic crop species in Papua New Guinea published by the Australian National University E-Press in the Terra Australia series.
Recorded and written by well-known agronomist and geographer, Dr Mike Bourke, the publication is a result of research work he started in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Dr Mike Bourke during the national development forum in August 2009.-Picture by MALUM NALU
Dr Bourke, who has been involved in agricultural research and development activities in PNG, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for the past 38 years, said the paper was important because it defined the altitudinal range of all major and many minor crops in PNG.
He said this was useful information for planners, extension officers, researchers and others involved in agricultural production.
Dr Bourke, who served as an agronomist and principal research horticulturalist with Department of Agriculture and Livestock between 1970 and 1983, said that because the data was recorded about 30 years ago, it provided baseline information on temperature change associated with climate change.
”Because of the close relationship between temperature and altitude in PNG, data on crop limits are a surrogate for temperature recordings,” he said.
“Historical data on where crops grow provides a baseline to gauge the impact of temperature changes associated with global climate change.
“Altitude, as a surrogate for temperature, also influences the rate of crop development, as well as setting limits to growth.
“Only a limited amount of information exists on the influence of altitude on crop development and yield in PNG.”
Dr Bourke added that the information was also useful to those involved in transferring agricultural technology as they required basic information about where certain crops would grow.
He has strong research interest in village agriculture in the Pacific and has recorded the altitudinal ranges of these crops based on numerous field observations over a period of three years covering all regions of PNG.
The record classified the crops as food, export commodities, shade and time, stimulants, decorations, body covering, cover crops, fish poison, and weeds.
Dr Bourke, who has extensive experience on agriculture development in the Pacific, has published many books and papers to capture his experiences in the region.
The paper is available on-line and can be downloaded free-of-charge, along with other papers in this volume of the Terra Australia series.
It is available at: www.  and Bourke can be contacted on

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