Trusted, accurate mapping of pasture biomass bring another level of decision making to anyone working with pastures, and offers the potential for more efficient practices, optimised feed management and the avoidance of over-grazing. Removing the need to estimate biomass by eye, plate-meter or drone/aircraft flights, satellite-derived biomass mapping saves time and money. Here we share our latest case study, where a best-practice test farm in Australia has finished trialling our pasture biomass service and is utilising it to develop optimal stock movements, improve sustainability and drive greater efficiencies.
Pasture management is vital to the success of farmers and businesses in the meat and livestock industry. With the land and environment continuously changing due to grazing, weather and other factors, it is essential to monitor these ever-changing conditions to maximise production. This is where remote sensing can provide a trusted eye-in-the-sky for those seeking to monitor their pastures as efficiently and effectively as possible. Equipped with sensors that collect data that is not visible to the human eye, including infrared and radar, satellite data processing is now so far advanced that accurate maps of biomass at 10m resolution are available on-demand irrespective of weather conditions.
Such pasture biomass maps provide an invaluable decision aid to farmers, advisors and any businesses managing pastures/grasses, as they give an instant view of relative abundance and absolute kg/ha across fields / paddocks. In this way, the energy and nutrient intake of livestock can be optimised and practices such as strip grazing implemented with precision timing. Issues such as over-grazing can also be better managed, or avoided altogether, as well as optimising the purchasing of any supplementary feed.
D-CAT offers three different biomass mapping services, which meet the needs of the majority of pasture growers. Specific services for lucerne and ryegrass are available and recommended for the highest-possible accuracy of estimate across those pasture types, as well as their all-weather guarantee. For all other pastures we recommend our mixed pasture biomass service.
These services has been developed over several years in close collaboration with agronomists and farmers as part of our rigourous validation process before bringing to market. One such validation trial was conducted in collaboration with a best-practice research farm in Australia, where accuracy and reliability was achieved over the 2020 season in real-time and over past seasons using archive data. The success of the service will enable further farm efficiencies and practice improvements on techno-grazing and centre-pivot irrigation this season and beyond.
An example of our mixed pasture biomass mapping service applied to a test farm in South Australia during August-October 2020 is given in the animation below. Each pixel represents the biomass in kg for the 10m x 10m area covered, with dark green highlighting the most abundant areas of the paddock. The movie clearly shows the change in pasture biomass over time as animals were moved south to north in a planned rotation which can be aided or designed according to such remotely sensed information.
The line graph below shows the varying amount of biomass over time for the animation above, whilst the bar graph on the right illustrates the total amount of biomass available across the whole paddock on each date monitored.
By using this service clients:
From determining when to allow livestock to graze, to deciding the best location for grazing or when to order supplementary feed. Monitoring pasture with remotely sensed and then processed imagery gives farmers incredible insights into how to best manage their livestock.
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