Over the past few seasons, SOYL has been developing precision farming services for the grassland industry. Grass is the UK's largest crop and is grown in every county.
A particular area that became a focus was that of pasture management and we discussed this during our winter workshops.A grassland and livestock famer needs to make constant decisions throughout the spring and summer about how livestock is moved around the farm. Ideally, fields should be individually assessed for biomass. Cattle should not be moved on to fields that have low levels of biomass and fields that have high levels of grass yield need to be considered for cutting.
Satellite imagery allows a quick, accurate and easy way to assess the relative amounts of biomass. The example below shows fields in dark green which have high biomass and red which are low biomass.
A further application can be achieved by calibrating the imagery so that it can be converted to a yield map, with biomass measured in kg/ha. This is done by using a plate metre (see photo below) to measure yield in kg/ha on a sample of low-to-high biomass fields, as indicated by the satellite image.
Once the calibration has been applied to each field then a field ranking can be created in the form of a grass wedge (see below). The red line shows fields which are at a level of biomass too low for grazing. Fields above the blue line should be left for cutting and fields between the two lines are suitable for grazing.
For specific advice for your business related to this blog or any other aspect of precision crop production get in touch with SOYL.