Members of the Dyffryn Conwy branch of the Grassland Society had read about how GPS (Global Positioning System) linked pasture meters were transforming the way farmers in New Zealand managed and used their grass.
The pasture meter provides high speed, accurate pasture measurements. Pulled behind a quad bike, the meter allows farmers to closely monitor growth rate and therefore the feed volume of grass on their farms.
As part of the Conwy Agri-Innovation project Annog worked closely with the farmers to assess the viability of this emerging technology. A demonstration event and a series of workshops were organised where the group could learn and evaluate the potential benefits of the technology for their own farms.
The project supported the purchase of the first pasture meter of its kind in the UK. Its GPS connection allowed data to be automatically correlated to specific field locations.
The innovative technology is expected to enable farmers to improve grassland efficiency by up to 15-20%. To help with analysing the results, a software package was also obtained. It provided recommendations on how to graze individual fields for maximum returns.
Individual farm maps were uploaded to the software which allowed members of the group to collate data for their own farms over a period of time.
The group continue to use the meter during by sharing the equipment on a rota basis and have organised open days to provide other farmers with a demonstration of the meter.
Farmer Alwyn Hughes says: "The pasture meter has proved to be particularly useful for 'top-end' grassland management systems especially for grass for milk production. It is hoped that with the use of the meter we can better utilise the pasture, by producing more meat or milk per acre with the same inputs'