High-speed grass reader gives dry matter stats from an ATV

New Zealand farmers have been using high-tech platemeters for many years to work out exactly how much grass dry matter they have on their fields. Now UK farmers are getting in on the act too.

See also: Revolutionary grass monitor on demo

Gloucestershire firm Agricultural Supply Services says it sold more than 130 platemeters made by New Zealand company AgHub in 2014.

These £450 units use a high-tech pressure plate that senses exactly how much  dry matter (DM) there is.

They work really well, but for bigger fields it can involve a lot of walking.

But now, for those with big acreages, there’s an option to fit an ultrasonic sensor on the front of an ATV.

Called the Feed Reader, it uses a sonar-type sensor to measure the dry matter and does so at a rate of 10 measurements/second and at a speed of up to 20kph .

Three models are on sale. The bronze option gives you a total dry matter figure at the end but has no further memory.

The silver version, on the other hand, gives you wireless connectivity so that you can download the figures to a computer up to a kilometer away.

The pukka gold version does that but also allows you to overlay the figures on a digital map so you can see exactly where the best grass DM is.

It also gives an on-the-go figure for DM/ha and has a GPS receiver so you know exactly where the best areas of grass are.    

Cost is £2,500 for the bronze version, £3,100 for the silver and £3,750 for the gold. More than 12 units have already been sold, says Agricultural Supply Services, half of them the bronze versions and the other half a mixture of silver and gold ones.

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