Pasture Growth Forecaster and LIC SPACE – a celebration

Pasture growth forecasting and automated measurement have been the subject of many years research, and development in New Zealand. With the launch of LIC SPACE integrating Pasture Growth Forecaster, researchers and practitioners participated in a celebration event.

In October 2020, LIC launched an update to its SPACE pasture measurement service. SPACE uses satellite data to predict available pasture for each paddock on New Zealand farms. The updated version incorporates predicted pasture growth rates from Pasture Growth Forecaster, a wholesale data service developed by Rezare Systems with models and funding from DairyNZ. Agrigate, Farmax, and Ravensdown have also created innovative products that use data from the Pasture Growth Forecaster.

Pasture growth forecasting and automated measurement have been the subject of many years aspiration, research, and development by the New Zealand industry.

On 16 November 2020, researchers, specialists, and industry participants met at DairyNZ’s Newstead centre (and remotely via Zoom) to celebrate the progress to date and share their vision for the future of feed planning on NZ pastoral farms. Each speaker offers their personal experiences in shifting the industry into more quantitative feed planning, the challenges and the future bright spots.

You’ll find videos of each speaker presentation below.

Bruce Thorrold speakingBruce Thorrold, DairyNZ
Bruce reminds us about the history of research and development in remote sensing of pastures and pasture growth predictions that have led to LIC’s SPACE initiative and the Pasture Growth Forecaster.
He ends with a challenge for how the pastoral industry might achieve more of the potential benefit.
Image of SPACE serviceGrant Anderson, LIC
Grant talks about SPACE, LIC’s service for pasture measurement using satellite data. He explains how the SPACE service has evolved, and the benefits that data from the pasture growth forecaster brings. Finally, he looks at opportunities to evolve and improve the SPACE service in the future.
Andrew Tait via ZoomAndrew Tait, NIWA
Andrew explains how NIWA developed and operates the Virtual Climate Station Network (VCSN). The Pasture Growth Forecaster draws on the VCSN for both historical climate records and weather forecasts. Andrew also looks at potential future enhancements to the VCSN and climate prediction.
Graeme Ogle presentingGraeme Ogle, Rezare Systems
Graeme talks about the potential value that better knowledge from use of tools such as Pasture Growth Forecaster and SPACE can provide and provides worked examples for dairy farms and sheep and beef farm systems. He looks at what other components are needed and asks “are we there yet?”
Slide with dairy dataMark Neal, DairyNZ
We turn now to the current state of pasture management in farming.
Mark explains the opportunity gap in energy from grazing pasture vs. the potential and identifies the proportion that could be addressed by better information and decision making. The opportunity is big! Mark then suggests both technologies and approaches to address this gap.
Dan Brier speakingDan Brier, Beef+Lamb New Zealand
Dan talks about the use of pasture measurement and pasture growth forecasting. He provides some examples of the potential return from feed budgeting, but also considers the hurdles that farmers face – around scale, technology, and headspace in today’s farming environment.
Participant in a discussionPanel Discussion
In this video, Andrew Cooke facilitates a panel discussion involving Andrew Tait, Mark Neal, Bruce Thorrold, Graeme Ogle, Grant Anderson, and Dan Brier.
The panellists and the audience share their views on adoption and complexity challenges for farmers, dealing with drought, and the opportunities around new technologies and ongoing science research.