Annual pasture quality and quantity

Page last updated: Thursday, 11 October 2018 - 2:45pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Pasture growth rates

Pasture growth rate is the daily growth in kilograms of green dry matter of pasture per hectare (kg DM/ha/day). Pasture growth rate information can assist farmers with management decisions such as grazing rotations, feed budgeting and fertiliser application. Satellite technology provides farmers with an accurate measure of feed on offer and pasture growth rates.

Estimating pasture growth is a key component of all feed budgets. The pasture growth rate is driven by a range of factors and can be highly variable. The major determinants of pasture growth rates are:

  • moisture
  • temperature
  • soil fertility
  • soil type
  • pasture species
  • plant density.
Table 2 Estimated typical daily pasture growth rates (kg DM/ha/day) by monthfor several regions in WA
Pasture – annual grass, sub clover and weeds J F M A M J J A S O N D
Dandaragan 0 0 0 2 15 26 28 36 57 51 10 0
Northam 0 0 0 2 8 13 15 29 48 24 9 0
Katanning 0 0 0 1 11 15 16 28 51 45 15 0
Esperance 0 0 0 7 12 16 18 29 47 35 23 0

Pastures from Space

Weekly pasture growth rates are available on a shire basis from the Pastures from Space website. The program provides estimates of pasture production during the growing season by means of remote sensing. Satellite data is used to accurately and quantitatively estimate pasture biomass or FOO and is also combined with climate and soil data, to produce pasture growth rate estimates.

Map of pasture growth rates in Western Australia, which vary between 0-10 and 30-40 in the main sheep production zones
Figure 10 The Pastures from Space project generates large scale maps that show different pasture growth rates represented by varying shades of colour

This map can be scaled down to show variation across local areas.

A more detailed service is available through the Pastures from Space website. A paddock-level subscription service is also available from Landgate.

Example map at paddock scale showing different pasture growth rates on different land management units.

This information can then be used for creating simple feed budgets.

Item Paddock 1 Paddock 2
Pasture growth rate 55kg/ha/day 70kg/ha/day
Number of animals that could be maintained at current pasture growth rate if each eats 1.2kg per day 45 58

Contact information

Danny Roberts
+61 (0)8 9892 8535
Perry Dolling
+61 (0)8 9821 3261