A new way to monitor grass growth

16 March, 2019

Spring is the time for maximum grass growth and having adequate grass production is a key variable for dairy margins. Knowing how much grass – in terms of Dry Matter per hectare – your fields are producing is key to optimising cow feeding regimes and ultimately, margins.

Traditionally, grass growth has been estimated by walking the paddocks. More recently, rising plate meters have been used where a sliding disc settles on the ‘canopy’ of the sward to give a reading of DM per ha.

New technology can also help out here. Satellite imagery can be used to monitor grass growth whereby the image can differentiate the grass level per paddock. An algorithm then converts the image via a calibration to give you reading per paddock in kg grass DM per hectare.

Fig. The shade of green represents differing levels of grass DM production in each paddock

With Dry Matter Intake (DMI) being a key factor for optimised milk production and a tonne of grass dry matter having an estimated worth of between £100 and £200, knowing how much grass dry matter your paddocks are producing is vital. More effective rotation of paddocks for grazing or cutting will lead to an increase in dairy margins, as the grass produced in now estimated to a higher level of accuracy.

If you are interested in knowing more about this technology, please email us at nfru@mapof.ag.