This Livestock and Pasture study is part of the wider UKRI STFC-funded EO4Agroclimate programme.

 

EO4Agriculture (Using Earth Observation Data and Technology for Agriculture and the Climate) is a UKRI STFC-funded project being carried out by a range of teams in order to determine the potential of earth observation data and technology to address issues in the wider agricultural and and climate area. This is a joint venture between UK and Australia, as part of the joint UK-Australia agroclimate space programme. The EO4Agroclimate programme currently involves multiple scoping studies to research the opportunities for earth observation data and technologies in several areas, including pest and disease risks, agricultural emissions and their impacts, crop production and metrics, and blue carbon. ADAS is leading the scoping study on livestock and pasture systems. 

Livestock and pasture scoping study 

The Crop Physiology team at ADAS are carrying out the Livestock and Pasture scoping study as part of the wider EO4Agroclimate programme to determine the challenges which livestock and pasture farmers in the UK and Australia currently face, the technologies that are currently used to address these problems, and where the gaps and opportunities are within this area for further research and development of new products and technologies. 

We are interested in contacting stakeholders within this field to answer the following questions:

  • What are the main challenges and opportunities within livestock pasture and forage systems?
  • What products or services that use earth observation technologies are available, or in development, to farmers and the supply chain?
  • What opportunities are there for earth observation technologies to aid pasture and livestock management and the supply chain?
  • Are there any research or knowledge gaps in this area?

The information gathered from this study aim to help build towards a larger future proposal to support the development of projects and research that address the challenges and gaps identified from our study. 

Stakeholders Identified

  UK Australia
Governmental
Research Organisations
Agricultural companies and networks
Consultants
Satellites
Data companies
Universities
Software/tech

Farm management apps and software

A summary of the grassland management apps we have identified in our research is summarised in the following table. There are currently no full-service management grassland apps in the UK or Australia that use satellite data to automatically record grass parameters including grass growth rate, biomass, yield as well as cutting and grazing events. Most apps involve the manual inputting of data by the farmer after completing farm walks to record paddock covers, either by estimation or measurement by rising plate meters.  This manually inputted data can be translated into grass growth forecasts, which can be converted into the number of grazing days left in a particular field, prompting the movement of livestock.

Name

Country

Service

Focus

Notes

AgriNet Grass

 

UK

Wedge, rotation planning, grass budget, benchmarking

P

Input rising plate meter measurements for calculation of various parameters

AgriNet HerdApp

 

UK

Compliance

L

Record births, weights, drugs

Breedr

UK

Marketplace, predictive growth, compliance, informed decisions on weigh scale

L

Record births, weights, drugs

AgriWebb

Aus.

Maps, compliance, predictive growth

P/L

Track forage amounts, cattle locations, assign employee tasks. Originated in Australia, now in multiple countries

Cibo Labs

Aus.

NDVI, Biomass, Map

P

Integrates with Ceres Tag and AgriWebb

Ruumi

UK

Wedge, plan rotations, maps

P

Draw field boundaries and keep records. The app calculates grass cover and dry matter through satellite data.

Field Margin

UK

Map, NDVI, Wedge

C/P/L

Store and track data for a variety of farm types

Data Farming

Aus.

NDVI, Map

C

Originated in Aus. but now used globally. Free with option to buy higher resolution

Omnia

UK

NDVI, Map, weather data, soil temperature and moisture

C

Variety of precision crop management farming tools and features

Grass SAT

UK

Grass Wedge, grazing days, field ranking by grass cover

P

Satellite-based grass management and monitoring service for dairy farms

ClearSky

UK

NDVI, GCVI

C

AI-based imagery from SAR data alone, guaranteed every six days

PLANET Biomass Proxy

UK

Daily proxy measurement of above-ground crop biomass

C

Combination of optical and radar data to give daily cloud-free imagery and data

GrassMax

UK

Grass biomass, compliance, soil fertility, 7-day predictive grass growth

P, L

Grass and mob management app to aid livestock farmers to increase grass production and utilisation.

RHIZA

UK

NDVI, soil parameters, nutrient mapping, variable rates, farm planning

C, P

Digital agronomy and precision farming service for arable and grassland businesses ran by Agrii.

Current Research Projects

A summary of the current research projects we have identified during our investigation is summarised in the table below.

Project Name

Focus

Country

Goal

Stakeholders

Farming Connect -  Comparing systems of measuring grassland production

Pasture

 

UK

Comparing the accuracy of plate meter readings and satellite imagery

Welsh Government

GrassCheck GB

Pasture

UK

Collection of grazing measurements and grass quality samples alongside weather data to develop 7 and 14-day estimates for grass growth

CIEL, AFBI, Rothamsted Research, the three GB meat levy bodies and industry sponsors

PASTORAL

Pasture

UK

The development of a digital solution to deliver weekly data and insights on current and projected grass biomass and carbon budgets

Environment Systems, University of Edinburgh, Soil Association

Carbon Storage Partnership

Pasture, Livestock

Aus.

Reach a profitable, sustainable, and socially acceptable, carbon neutral red meat sector by 2030

University of Tasmania, MLA, CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary industries, and more.  

Grazing Intelligence

Pasture, Livestock

Aus

Produce machine learning models to remotely predict animal performance and pasture availability

Food Agility, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Pasture.io

Rangelands Carbon

Pasture

Aus

Produce a new carbon measurement tool using remote sensing of biomass and vegetation as proxies

Food Agility, AACo, Cibo Labs, FLINTpro, Carbon Link, UTS, FUA, CSU

Super-G

Pasture

UK

Co-develop sustainable permanent grassland systems and policies with farmers and policy makers to enhance productivity and biodiversity of grasslands ADAS, Newcastle University, University of Aberdeen, AFBI and more

Research Summary

During our research, we have identified a wide range of UK and Australian-based stakeholders, including governmental, research organisations, software companies and independent consultants, who would be valuable participants in ongoing research originating from the findings from this scoping project. 

A summary of the research challenges and opportunities that we have identified during our investigations and conversations with stakeholders are presented in the following table.

Group

Challenges

Opportunities

Governmental

UK – Brexit means new ways of funding farmers need to be found

Australia – Need to incentivise farmers to practice carbon-friendly farming

Both – Need to meet environmental targets, net-zero carbon goals

Ability to use data for compliance e.g., no overwinter fallow, stocking numbers

Monitoring/surveying farm practices

New avenues to replace CAP through STI e.g., carbon capture

Academia and research

Acquisition of funding

High impact research outputs

Collaboration with other Universities and companies

Research publications – raising the profile

Funding/PhD students/Postdocs

Business and commercial

Make sure the product is saleable and commercial

The development of earth observation technologies is costly

Involvement in the project will mean access to research outputs that could incorporate into existing apps/technologies

Advertisement and collaboration.

Farmers

Measuring grass is time-consuming

Fixing and moving fencing costs time and money

Lack of trust in technology to measure accurately

Lack of training and knowledge to work with technology

Lack of signal in rural areas

Satellite grass measuring with rotational grazing = enhanced grass growth, reduced food bills, reduced time – no more plate meter measuring

GPS tracking/virtual fencing = reduced labour costs

Development of technologies that can work offline and sync when online.

Farm advisors

Field surveying and monitoring are limited by time and the ability to walk around lots of fields

Move towards using tools and technologies to save time and enabling the monitoring of more of the farm more precisely

More clients and more accurate advice?

Related Organisations

Connected Content

ADAS provides ideas, specialist knowledge and solutions to secure our food and enhance the environment. We understand food production and the challenges and opportunities faced by organisations operating in the natural environment

ADAS has the largest group of crop physiologists in the UK The ADAS crop physiology team focuses on improving performance and sustainability of cropping systems for food, feed and biofuel production.

Rothamsted Research is a world-leading, non-profit research centre that focuses on strategic agricultural science to the benefit of farmers and society worldwide.

Our Vision: A sustainable and resilient agrifood sector, powered by data Our Mission: To transform the agrifood sector through a thriving Data Marketplace, where data can be easily shared, monetised, and accessed

The livestock industry is an integral part of the agricultural sector, encompassing various aspects of animal husbandry and production. It plays an important role in global food security and supports the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide.

Grass in farming is interconnected with livestock systems for their feed, in the form of grazing, haylage and silage, and is also used as 'leys' (short-term grasslands) to regenerate soil structure and quality.

Pioneering innovation, technology and precision engineering for UK farming. 

Many technologies now exist to monitor land at a range from scales, from hand-held sensors and simple cameras, through tractor mounted sensors, drones, aeroplanes through to satellites.

BEIS and STFC supported programme aiming to explore the opportunities for Earth Observation to provide solutions for agriculture and climate change, through collaborations between the UK and Australia.

GrassCheckGB is a grass monitoring project involving 50 dairy, beef and sheep farms.   Growth and quality data is published weekly throughout the growing season

Pasture Optimisation for Resilience and Livelihoods (PASTORAL) will work with farmers to co-design a new digital platform to help improve data to inform on-farm decision making to increase farm productivity and carbon efficiency using satellite data to plan pasture management.    

Giving farmers the confidence to grow.    The precision livestock network for forward thinking farmers.

The SUPER-G project is a European wide project aiming to work with farmers and policy makers to develop sustainable & effective permanent grassland systems.

Remote Sensing Applications Consultants Ltd (RSAC) specialises in agricultural and forestry applications of remote sensing.