We've been busy on farm with our project partners, researchers at DEDJTR, testing and calibrating the pasture measurement gear we will be using as part of the project. One of the tools we are trialling is the Pasture Reader. See below for a YouTube clip of this in action.
The purpose of the monitoring and measurement strategy is to collect data on pasture accumulation and nutritive value as well as water use to assist in the identification on opportunities and challenges, inform management decisions and ground truth estimates and gut feel of our top operators for accuracy.
We have been getting both a CDax and a Pasture Reader calibrated and tested. The CDax is a proven and reliable way of measuring pasture but it's performance is limited in tall crops such as lucerne, as it is a pull behind device an ATV can squash the pasture before it is measured, confusing the results. The Pasture Reader is mounted on the front of an ATV so overcomes this problem. We are running both together at the same time in order to compare the performance of the Pasture Reader against the CDax. We are also calibrating measurement readings through hand cuts. The calibration is the labour intensive component of doing pasture measurements, and by doing them as part of the project it will allow us to compare the effectiveness of other pasture monitoring tools such as drones and satellites as the project progresses.
For the water use component we are extending the use of soil moisture probes on both Partner Farms across different forage types and watering strategies. We are capturing water on bays and investigating ways to measure water off. All data collected throughout each season will be related back to economic implications to gain an understanding of how management decisions are impacting on the whole farm system. In the coming months we will be sharing with you the results from our measurement, which will give you an intimate insight into what is happening on both our Partner Farms as the season progresses.