Members of the consortium

Livestock Industries

Livestock and Livestock Products

Satellite Remote Sensing Services


Funding support

Western Dairy

In 2002 Western Dairy funded a feasibility study with the aim of measuring Feed-on-Offer and Pasture Growth Rate with satellite imagery in the dairy region of south-west Western Australia.

The focus of this project is to test the accuracy of the remotely sensed pasture information compared with ground measurements and commence delivering it directly to end-users. The application of the information for feed budgeting or optimising spatial variation has significant benefits but will not be directly addressed in this project.

Many WA dairy farmers have some awareness of pasture budgeting principals, but farmer awareness and understanding of pasture budgeting options must be improved in order to deliver opportunities for increased productivity on-farm. Unfortunately, many farmers do not have the time to walk paddocks on a regular basis nor the confidence or skills to make accurate pasture assessments. Some of these constraints may be overcome if farmers can utilise accurate and timely remote measurement of Feed-On-Offer (FOO) and Pasture Growth Rate (PGR) available across every paddock on their property.

The principal outputs identified were:

  • Delivery of quantitative remotely-sensed pasture growth rate information in south-west WA via the Internet, updated weekly.

  • Demonstration dairy farms displayed on the Internet for delivery of remotely-sensed Feed-on-Offer information, updated monthly.

  • Feasibility of using existing satellite technology to measure the growth rate and feed-on-offer of annual pastures in the dairy region of south-west Western Australia.

The on-farm application of this technology is predominantly targeted at increasing the efficiency of utilisation of the feed resource. Increased utilisation directly decreases the cost of production through increased stocking rate, decreased supplementary costs, and possibly greater farm diversification if less area is required to run the same number of animals. Grazing to specific levels of pasture availability and quality can result in significant improvements in product quality.

The final report for this project is due in December 2003.



In 2003 AWI has approved the activities of the Pastures from Space project and an agreement is being negotiated. 

  • This project will develop a capacity to predict pasture growth rate (PGR) for farms across the Mediterranean regions of western Australia. 

  • Net pasture production will be predicted for any period in the future from one week ahead to the end of the growing season. Satellite based sensing technology will be used to develop the predictions of PGR 

  •  The timely up-to-date PGR predictions will be delivered direct to the end user.  It will provide them with the capacity for making strategic decisions on land use, improving the budgeting of feed resources for management of stock numbers and product quality, and better managing their risk. 

  •  This project will establish the value proposition for this product through producer case studies and economic modelling.



This project was established in 2003 and aims to determine the feasibility of using remote sensing to quantitatively measure the pasture growth rate and pasture cover in New Zealand.

 This project will be of 18 months duration, and will evaluate the accuracy and robustness of remote sensing technology in dairy pastures. At its completion the parties will determine on-going activities. This study will focus on three areas of interest, the Waikato  and Taranaki regions in the North Island and the Christchurch region in the South Island as a test-bed for wide spread development throughout New Zealand.

 We propose to utilise pasture and meteorological data combined with satellite imagery totalling a period of 5 years. This will enable us to evaluate the extent to which cloud cover may constrain image acquisition, and the feasibility of using the satellite imagery to quantitatively determine pasture growth rate and pasture cover.


  • To investigate the availability and suitability of satellite imagery for the Waikato, Taranaki and Christchurch regions of New Zealand, and assess any constraints due to cloud cover.

  • Explore the availability and validity of existing pasture data (collected over the past 5-6 years) for alignment with satellite imagery.
  • Develop an inventory of historical pasture data, meteorological information and matching satellite imagery.
  • Test the Australian based algorithms for estimating pasture cover and growth rate.
  • Identify opportunities for improving the reliability and accuracy of estimation of pasture cover and growth rate.
  • Establish protocols for further development of remote sensing technology for pasture assessment across New Zealand utilising either historical data sets or real-time data sets, or both.

For specific queries regarding this project please contact:

Mark Leslie

Technology Leader On-Farm Productivity

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd


For more information on how to become a funder or collaborator contact:

Dr David Henry

CSIRO Livestock Industries

Ph: 61 (0)8 9333 6000

Fx: 61 (0)8 9387 8991




Copyright 2006 Pastures from Space
Last modified: November 08, 2006

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