Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) has announced the launch of an innovative satellite technology called SPACE (Satellite Pasture and Cover Evaluation) – a giant leap forward for pasture management.
SPACE uses satellite images to measure pasture, sending detailed reports directly to farmers by email. This innovative technique has the ability to save farmers several hours a week by replacing the current way of measuring, which is either walking the farm or towing instruments behind a vehicle.
The technology hasn’t previously been commercially viable in New Zealand due to cloud coverage, but LIC’s satellite provider takes daily images to counter the cloud cover problem.
“The SPACE service provides a game-changing opportunity for farmers to gain an objective assessment of pasture cover which will result in more informed decision making around grazing, fertiliser and overall feed management” says LIC chief executive Wayne McNee.
“Satellites that pass over daily give us the best chance to provide our farmers a clear image once a week, which is aligned to best practice for pasture measurement,” says Wayne McNee.
The satellites will pass over New Zealand daily and when a clear image is taken, a detailed pasture report is sent to the farmer within 24 hours. For LIC customers who also use MINDA Land & Feed, the pasture cover data is uploaded automatically to the web-based system.
As well as saving farmers’ time, SPACE offers a truly objective assessment of pasture cover. Utilising the satellite’s sensors, measurements aren’t subject to any human bias.
The report creates a feed wedge, ranking paddocks in relation to pasture availability, and includes an image of the farm showing pasture variation by colour and estimated pasture cover for each paddock.
Initially SPACE will be available to farmers in Canterbury who are located within two 1000 sq. km areas from December 2017. The plan is to roll it out nationally as soon as possible.