Delivering great data is useful only if that data is put to some use to make your enterprises more efficient or more profitable. 

In 2003 a new tool will be available to help co-operators in the Pastures from Space project to allow them to better interpret the PGR and FOO data, compare it to previous years results and integrate it with other farm management information already at their disposal.

Pasture Watch is a computer program developed by Roger Wiese, from Fairport Technologies, the makers of PAM QA Plus, in response to an approach by DAWA and CSIRO. 

The Pasture Watch software will sit in your PC and will allow you to plot PGR weekly for each pasture paddock, comparing it to the farm average and the forecast PGR for the following week (figure 1).

Similarly, monthly FOO for each paddock in your farm will be plotted together with an estimate of total pasture production for that paddock, giving you an estimate of pasture utilisation as the year progresses (figure 2). 

This will be an important tool in making decisions as to whether to decrease or increase stocking rate, close a paddock for hay or silage, do some drought planning, etc.

 

Figure 1. Progressive plotting of PGR for individual paddocks, including a 7-day forecast and a comparison to the mean PGR for the whole farm. Figure 2. Monthly quantitative FOO or biomass estimates plotted through the season can be combined with the estimate of PGR to derive:
  • Total Dry Matter (DM) production 
  • and by difference the estimated utilization of pasture by the grazing animals

 

Other Features

For each paddock you will be able to set up critical warnings to help decision-making.  For example, you will be able to set lower FOO limits in autumn so that when a paddock reached 800 kg DM/ha a pop-up message will suggest that supplementary feeding in that paddock is no longer necessary.  Setting limits to ensure that FOO for pregnant ewes does not drop below a critical value (eg 1500 kg DM/ha).  If managing wool profiles in spring, upper limits can be set to remind you when to increase stocking rate or reduce paddock area to enable producers to maintain a constant FOO level in order to prevent micron blow-out.

The best thing is that the program will get the data automatically.  Every time you connect to the internet and start the program it will quietly go away to a central data storage point and download the latest PGR data available for your property.  If you come back from a three-week fishing trip, it will download all the missing data, not just the last week.  Once per month it will download the FOO data in a similar way.

 At this point, Pasture Watch will not download colour maps, they will still be sent to producers by email and can also be accessed through the internet.

The big brother to Pasture Watch is PAM QA Plus.  The same functions are available in the latest version of PAM QA Plus, but in addition it allows you to link your pasture information to your animal and financial records and will allow users to import the colour maps into the system as well as generate "Map Reports" which show paddock colour ranked by FOO and PGR.  All five focus farms have been set up with PAM QA Plus, and will demonstrate PAM QA Plusís functionalities at the monthly meetings of co-operators.

 

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Copyright © 2003 Pastures from Space
Last modified: October 01, 2003

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