Grass measuring: How does the Grasshopper work?
The importance of grass in both dairy and beef production systems is no secret and is the cheapest form of feed. Farmers who measure and budget grass operate more profitable systems.
While 2018 posed its own problems in terms of grass growth and grass utilisation, grass-growth rates have recovered and are standing at approximately 55-60kg/ha/day all over the country.
The grass wedge has become the standard way to analyse the data produced on a weekly farm walk, where paddocks are measured for available or total grass cover.
The Grasshopper produces paddock covers and a grass wedge after each farm walk and also exports the collected paddock information to an external grass-management tool, such as PastureBase Ireland or AgriNet.
In the video below, Diarmuid McSweeney – chief technology officer with True North Technologies – explains how the Grasshopper is based on the traditional rising plate meter and how all the information is fed back through a sensor and onto a mobile phone via Bluetooth.
The Grasshopper was developed over a three-year period by True North Technologies of Shannon and Teagasc at the Moorepark Grassland Research Station in Fermoy, Co. Cork.
Touching on its customer base, Diarmuid said: “Our customers are predominately dairy, but we see more beef customers coming on board; people are trying to make more of their grass. They are realising they have to increase efficiency.
“The economics are very straight forward, if you take the national farm survey, the average farm is growing 7.5-8t of dry matter (DM)/ha.
“However, new customers on PastureBase are growing in excess of 11t of DM/ha; this makes a big difference to the production system.”