Measuring pasture cover accurately with a smartphone will soon to be a reality for dairy farmers in Waikato.
Launched in September, AIMER Vision, developed by Amier Farming, uses a 360-degree video taken from a smartphone to estimate a paddock’s pasture cover using an app – essentially turning the device into a platemeter.
Aimer Farming founder and chief technology officer Jeremy Bryant says the ability to now measure pasture covers quickly, easily and cost-effectively via Vision is a game-changer for farmers wanting to improve pasture management.
Using machine learning, Vision learns what different pasture covers look like through the video lens of a smartphone camera.
“During development in the Waikato, we have achieved accuracies of 80% of pasture covers within 200kg dry matter per hectare of a platemeter measurement, and the rest of covers being within 400kg dry matter per hectare of a platemeter measurement.
“As we add more covers to train Vision, its accuracy will improve even more,” Bryant says.
Aimer Farming, a Kiwi start-up, launched AIMER at Fieldays, giving New Zealand farmers nationwide access to an artificial intelligence-enabled digital assistant and operating system for pastoral farming.
AIMER uniquely learns about paddocks on farm and allows farmers to carry out rapid part-farm walks, generates insights to optimise pasture management, and auto-generates paddock grazing and supplement plans for each mob on the farm.
Improving accuracy of pasture cover estimation is a critical first step to increasing farm profitability.
Work completed by DairyNZ in 2018 showed that regular and accurate pasture cover estimation and better pasture decision making has the potential to improve operating profit by $385-$525 per hectare.
For an average sized farm this is $60,000 to $80,000 of additional profit.
Better decision making includes closer matching of feed supply with demand, grazing the longest paddocks first rather than in a set order, hitting post graze targets consistently, and feeding supplements only when needed and profitable.
“Every extra kilogram of dry matter intake from improved pasture management has a positive impact on a farm’s profitability,” Bryant says.
“Using pasture first and taking away the pain of generating an optimised grazing plan makes AIMER invaluable to stay on top of pasture quality while optimising feed intakes.”