In early 2000, a collaborative project was funded by a number of International Agencies to develop a digital support tool to help farmers, advisors, and researchers determine the best forage plants for different locations and purposes. The project involved a number of international research organisations, including CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, the Queensland Goverment Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries, Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
During the previous 50 years, forage research had identified many useful tropical grasses and legumes suitable for different sites and for different purposes. Although information on the adaptation and use of these forage plants resided in peer-reviewed literature and in local research reports, the most important source in many cases was in the memories of experienced forage agronomists in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, sub-tropical USA, Central and South America, South and South-east Asia and Australia.
In 2005, Tropical Forages: An Interactive Selection Tool was published as a CD ROM and subsequently made available online. It was initially made available in four languages, the website had well over one million unique visitors since its launch, and around 15,000 visitors a month. Given its continuing use and the fact that the data had not been seriously updated since the initial launch, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) provided funds in 2016 for “Tropical Forages” to be updated and published, both as a Lucid Mobile app (both Android and Apple), as well as an updated online tool.
Visit the current Tropical Forages selection tool website here.