Improving pasture performance

Monika Reichelt

Take part in PASTORAL research project aiming to develop a digital tool helping farmers increase productivity and carbon efficiency by improving pasture performance and management.

The project is funded by Innovate UK and led by Environment Systems, a leading agricultural and environmental data consultancy, in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and the Soil Association. PASTORAL’s digital solution combines satellite data with advanced algorithms and delivers weekly information on grass biomass and carbon budgets, which farmers can use to help with their decision making and planning. The biomass monitoring service provides near real-time and field-scale information on grass biomass, its consumption and growth rate. The carbon-ready demonstration quantifies field carbon accounts across the farm, providing a carbon storage and sequestration evidence base.

Around a 100 livestock farmers from across the UK will work with the project group, involved in testing, developing and demonstrating this new technology. To get the best results, the project is working with farmers from a variety of systems - organic, regenerative and conventional, a selection of whom will be part of on-farm field labs and workshops.

Why optimise pasture performance?

Improved pasture management can help make farm run more efficiently, be more productive and support all-important soil health. By developing effective tools to monitor pasture at a field scale, you can reduce inputs, waste and reliance on concentrated feeds. Current methods can be time consuming and do not always reflect field quality or future growth accurately. PASTORAL’s goal is to provide accurate data and biomass monitoring in a format which can save time.

The project is currently in research phase, finding out more about farmers’ needs and preferences as well as collecting field maps and management details from participating farmers.

You can get involved in the following ways:

  • Share your current pasture management practices and ways you are wanting to improve your productivity by completing this online survey asking about your farm and practices.
  • Sign up to be part of the project. Fill in this short PASTORAL Farm Participation Sign-up form where you will share information about at least five of your fields and their location and you will receive in-season biomass and carbon budget information.
  • Take part in on-farm trials. Take part in on-farm data collect to help test and develop the model for data insights on pasture performance to help in the development of PASTORAL. Innovative Farmers has information about how to get involved.

For more details, visit the Soil Association website.