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Published 27 November 2014 Referencing Hub media
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Professor Ian Yule of Massey University and C-Dax Innovations manager Rob Murray explain the Pasture Meter – a crop and pasture-sensing tool that was developed by Massey University and commercialised by C-Dax. The precision technology is a tow-along device developed to enable better feed budgeting on farms.

Transcript

Professor Ian Yule
It’s really important for dairy farmers to work out how much feed is in a paddock, because that was one of the problems they’d had with previous measurement methods where you send two people out and get different results. With the Pasture Meter, that simply shouldn’t happen. We were sitting in our office in Massey thinking there’s got to be a decent way to do this or a better way to do this. Well the concept that we came up with was basically if you imagine a row of interrupted … of beams of light coming across between two objects. As the grass is coming in between them, those beams are interrupted. So basically, what the Pasture Meter does is give you a very nice profile of what the height of the grass is.

Rob Murray
You’re making better, more educated use of your grass to deliver an optimised feeding pattern or grazing pattern for the farm.

Professor Ian Yule
We think we’re maybe leaving as much as that sort of $300–600 million in the paddock every year just because we don’t do things properly. You simply drive the vehicle – whether it’s an ATV or some other similar vehicle – and when you return to base, it downloads all the information of your drive that you’ve had – how much pasture is there, where. All of that is downloaded so that the farm manager or the person making up the feed budget can then look at that and allocate the feed on the farm.

Rob Murray
Massey brought the technology to C-Dax back in 2004. C-Dax commercialised and released the first product I think in June 2006. So that was a, for us, reasonably tight commercialisation.

Professor Ian Yule
We can say get 10–15% improvement in pasture utilisation, which is again makes a big difference to most farmers.

Rob Murray
If you rolled up the $57,000 per farm value across the 10,000 dairy farms in New Zealand, that equates to a national figure of around $570 million. Overseas, we’ve got a lot of units leaving our shores and going to other countries with a strong pastoral footprint, but the actual potential market is massive.

Professor Ian Yule
The excitement you get from an invention like that is that it’s very simple. It’s very simple, but it’s very effective. We know from farmers that use it that they use it in slightly different ways, but they’re all profiting from using it, and that’s really the key thing, and that’s what it was designed to do.

Acknowledgement
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013