In 2019 Aquasition was awarded a contract by Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) for the installations of 50 weather stations and ground sensors for the GrassCheckGB project. The GrassCheck initiative is a collaboration between the Centre for Innovation in Livestock (CIEL), The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Rothamsted Research.
Originally established in Northern Ireland in 1999 by AFBI and AgriSearch, the GrassCheck project aims to provide high quality, up-to-date grass information to assist farmers with grassland management decisions and support improvements in grass utilisation. In 2017 the project was extended to 35 farms across Northern Ireland and weather monitoring was added to the data set. In 2019 the project was expanded to 50 farms thought the England, Wales and Scotland by the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL).
The project monitors weekly grass growth and quality and provides seven- and fourteen-day grass growth rate forecasts to support farmers in managing pasture surpluses and deficits throughout the growing season. Regular grass growth monitoring has been identified as a key mechanism to facilitate improvements in grass utilisation, which in turn carries a financial benefit for farmers. It has been demonstrated by AFBI that improving grassland utilisation by one tonne per hectare on a dairy farm is worth an additional profit of £441/ha/year and on a beef farm £204/ha/year.
At each of the 50 farms, Aquasition installed an automatic weather station measuring rainfall, temperature, humidity, solar radiation (PAR), wind speed and direction. Ground sensors to measure soil moisture and temperature were also installed. Data is transmitted wirelessly from the measurement platform to the farm’s broadband router and then on to hosted data service every 15 minutes. This provides the research team with the data need to run the analysis. It also provides the farmers with access to the weather and soil temperature data via a mobile phone APP.
Installations at the 50 farms commenced in Cornwall in February 2019 and finished in the Highlands in April 2019.
Further information is available from the GrassCheck-GB website: https://www.cielivestock.co.uk/grasscheckgb/