Satellite technology is offering opportunities to look at new ways of monitoring grass growth, the health and movement of animals and milk yields. LIC is a New Zealand company leading the way.
Its innovative programme, Satellite Pasture and Cover Evaluation (Space), allows farmers to measure pasture dry matter using satellite imagery – the next step forward following years of using plate meters towed behind sensor equipment.
LIC business adviser Simon Parry says: “It can take hours to walk the farm and most farmers in New Zealand will do a forage walk every seven to 10 days, sometimes twice-a-week at peak times. This is a much more convenient system and decisions can be made from the farm office once the yield maps are downloaded.”
Mr Parry says current technologies are time-consuming, prone to user error and therefore inconvenient. This technology, he believes, will help farmers work smarter.
In bringing the system to market, LIC teamed up with FarmShots, a company which specialises in analytics and processing, and with Planet, a satellite business with more than 180 satellites taking images which enable the accurate measure of pasture cover.
Mr Parry says: “Pictures are taken everyday and, when clear, are sent to individual farmers with a detailed report. The pictures show different tones of green with darker patches indicating the areas where the most grass is available in dark green. Fields are numbered using the farms own system so they are easily identifiable.”
The plan is for Space to be trialled in the UK.
Mr Parry says: “We are optimistic this will be a very useful management tool for farmers, saving them a lot of valuable time.”
Mark Ryder, general manager at LIC Europe, joined Farmers Guardian deputy editor Olivia Midgely recently as part of a webinar discussion on ‘Working smarter, not harder’.
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