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Yield Mapping to Improve Dairy Farm Production

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  051074,  2005 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.18849) @2005
Authors:   Yule, I.J., Lawrence, H.G., and Murray, R.I.
Keywords:   Pasture, Pasture measurement, Yield mapping, Precision Agriculture

Pasture management is one of the most important factors in developing a successful dairy production system in New Zealand. Key performance indicators include the quantity of pasture grown and how well it is utilized. For a pasture management system to be successful, it requires accurate pasture measurement and the ability to use the collected information to make decisions at all management levels. Industry commentators often talk about a ten per cent improvement in production being possible from improved utilization of pasture. On a national scale a 10% improvement would result in an increased return of NZ$560M. (US$400M) to dairy farmers.

Improvement in pasture production and utilization has been hampered by the lack of tools to accurately measure pasture production in a way that is time efficient and cost effective. This needs to be managed so that demand can be met and excess conserved. This paper describes work which provides an ATV mounted yield mapping capability for dairy farmers. The most common form of pasture measurement previously used has been the rising plate meter (RPM). During the testing phase it was found there was a strong linear relationship between the two measurement instruments (R2 = 0.955) in terms of predicting pasture dry matter (kg DM ha-1), when exactly the same points were used. When full paddock measurements were undertaken by taking measurements at a ten metre swath width using the new high speed sensor there was found to be a significant difference between the predicted dry matter readings and those gained by a single transect of the plate meter. Indicating that the transect was not necessarily a representative sample.

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