10 reasons why you should be using PastureBase Ireland in 2020

PastureBase Ireland (PBI) is a unique programme available on browser, and on a smartphone app, that is designed to help dairy, beef and sheep farmers manage all aspects of grassland on their farms.

The link between grass utilisation and farm profitability has been widely reported with every extra tonne of grass utilised, equating to €173/ha of extra profit.

When comparing data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) with PBI, it is clear that farmers who are using PBI are utilising more grass (7t versus 10t dry matter (DM) per hectare), and therefore should be more profitable.

Below are some reasons why you should consider using PBI

1) Working offline – no problem

Manage your grass using only your smartphone. The PBI grass app is a fast and very user-friendly app where farmers can enter grass covers, grazings and silage cuts, livestock numbers and intakes, milk data and record fertiliser applications.

Recent enhancements include the Teagasc spring rotation planner (SRP) and projected wedge.

2) Linking grass production with milk production

PastureBase Ireland is currently accepting milk data from 12 milk processors (Arrabawn, Aurivo, Barryroe, Centenary, Dairygold, Drinagh, Glanbia, Kerry, Lakeland, Lisavaird, North Cork and Tipperary).

To activate the link, all you need to do is enter your milk supplier number and after each milk collection, the milk data will flow into your PBI profile. Kilograms of milk solids per cow and per hectare are calculated along with litres per cow.

3) Increase output – control input cost

Leading on from this, where grass is measured and managed correctly, livestock will graze top-quality grass for the duration of the grazing season, which will increase output of milk solids, or live weight gain (LWG).

One of the long-term benefits of using PBI is that you will be able to see how much grass your farm can grow, and understand the grass growth pattern of the farm.

With this information you will be able to make decisions, for example: when calving/lambing should start; when the second round of grazing should start; and what is the most suitable stocking rate for your farm.

This will leave your business less exposed to fluctuation in prices of purchased feed. Grass is the cheapest and is a highly nutritious feed on all our farms and should be maximised in all ruminant diets.

4) Learning from each other

A popular feature in PBI is sharing grass, milk and fertiliser information with other farmers. These farmers may be in the same discussion group, or may be simply neighbouring farms.

All data, for example farm cover, growth rate, milk solids per cow, nutrient application, etc, can be shared at the farmer’s discretion. This is an excellent way to learn from others that may have the same soil type, stocking rate, etc, and adds a new dimension to discussion group meetings.

5) Growing more grass

Once you have completed a full year of measurement on PBI, it is time to see what paddocks are underperforming by running the annual tonnage report and investigate why.

By taking action this will in turn increase the quantity of grass grown on the farm.

6) High-quality silage

From time to time your farm will be in surplus (growth rate is higher than demand) and this grass will have to be removed from the grass wedge on PBI.

This grass will be cut and baled and will provide excellent-quality forage during periods of inclement weather conditions such as spring 2020.

7) Planning ahead – PBI has the tools

Measuring farm cover is a very important job on every farm, but it is what you do with the information after that is more critical and alleviates farmer stress.

The projected wedge is a tool used to see what the wedge will look like in seven days’ time. This gives the farmer the confidence to take out the extra paddock for surplus bales; or on the flip side to slow down the level of grazing by increasing supplementation.

Another tool is the weekly planner which is available on the browser and the app which gives the farmer a grazing plan for the next few days by calculating the pre grazing yield when the livestock enter the paddock.

8) More days at grass – budgets

There are also two widely used budgets on PBI – grass and fodder budget.

The grass budget is used during the spring, where you can enter your calving pattern, or in the autumn. It uses average grass growth rates for your farm to predict what the cover will be next week.

The fodder budget is a simple tool to calculate the winter feed availability and requirement for your herd or flock.

9) Analysing your data

Currently you can view the group report to see information from the farms you are sharing data with, the annual tonnage report as discussed above and fertiliser reports.

A new milk report is also available, while Teagasc is currently developing a new grass report which will be deployed in two weeks.

10) You are not alone – help is at hand

Grass measuring and using PBI can seem very daunting at first but there is plenty of help at hand.

Teagasc has a very experienced advisory network that covers all the country and are willing to help you get started.

Other supports include the friendly PBI team who can guide you through the process and the dedicated help centre website where there are an abundance of videos and documents to show you how to use PBI.

Find out more

Download the app or see more information by visiting: www.teagasc.ie/pbi.