Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Origin Digital

Measuring grass from space

Agriculture & Energy

A new platform uses satellite technology to collect and analyse data for better grassland management


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Spotted: Grassland is a vital component of dairy farming, as it provides food for the cows. In fact, grasslands not only provide nutrition for dairy cows and maintain soil fertility, but could also play a key role in greenhouse gas mitigation through carbon sequestration. However, in order to make better-informed decisions about elements such as grazing schedules and silage cuts, farmers need to have accurate data.

To provide this, technology company Origin Digital and Earth observation experts Aspia Space have teamed up to launch GrassMax. This uses satellite technology to track live grass yield in individual fields and forecast conditions on the ground, to help farmers better manage their silage.

Origin Digital says that knowing the height, and therefore the biomass, of grass in each field is essential for “planning where animals will graze most productively, or when to cut grass for hay or winter feed. It’s also essential for farming sustainably, since grazing grass at the right height, and therefore nutritional quality, can reduce methane emissions from livestock.”

GrassMax uses imaging technology to estimate grass height to within 1.5 centimetres from nearly 700 kilometres up in space, even throughout long periods of continuous cloud cover. The technology can also track data such as variations in grass height across a paddock and how many days animals are on the grass in each field.

The technology offers benefits that can also help local councils and others better manage their natural resources and park maintenance. GrassMax will launch later in 2023 in Ireland, with a plan to expand to additional countries and products soon.

The rapid growth in satellite technology is opening up a host of areas for remote data collection and analysis. In the archive, Springwise has also spotted a data aggregation platform that provides granular data on the environment in Africa and software that democratises risk assessment using climate satellite data.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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