Livestock Systems

Update of SoFT (Selection of Forages for the Tropics)

Project code
AUD 250,000
Research program manager
Dr Anna Okello
Project leader
Dr Michael Peters, International Center for Tropical Agriculture
Commissioned organisation
International Center for Tropical Agriculture
JUN 2017
FEB 2020
Project status
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This project aimed to enrich Tropical Forages both in terms of content and technical features, in order to enhance its quality, utility, usability and reach.

Selection of Forages for the Tropics (SoFT) is an open-access, online, expert knowledge system created by a team of renowned international forage specialists between 2000 and 2005. It is the preeminent source which provides detailed information on 180 major forages grown in the tropics and sub-tropics and incorporates a species selection tool based on target environment and forage use. The ability to select and prioritize forages for specific niches, environments, socio-economic conditions and specific animal requirements is important to mitigate feed shortages and improve natural resource management as part of sustainable farming systems.

Since its release in 2005, SoFT has been extensively used by researchers, extension agencies, NGOs, informed (livestock) farmers and educational institutions around the world, with an average of >250,000 website visits and >175,000 unique visitors per year. Although those numbers are impressive, research has advanced during the last 10-15 years and generated new information on forage performance and use in a wide range of environments. At the same time, rapid advances in knowledge management and information technology were made, such as the use of mobile devices and automatic translation features.

Project outcomes

  • Updated content of the knowledge tool, incorporating advances in forage research over the last 15 years and in particular giving attention to eco-system service functions of forages
  • An updated knowledge tool incorporating advances in ICT, i.e. usability across a range of platforms, improved search engines and a new feedback mechanism for future knowledge updates
  • Availability of the knowledge tool through mobile devices enhancing accessibility in particular for the youth.