Photogrammetry for assessment of pasture biomass
Journal of New Zealand Grasslands, Vol. 81, 33-40
Wigley, K., Owens, J.L., Westerschulte, M., Riding, P., Fourie, J., Werner, A.
New tools are required to provide estimates of pasture biomass as current methods are time consuming and labour intensive. This proof-of-concept study tested the suitability of photogrammetry to estimate pasture height in a grazed dairy pasture. Images were obtained using a digital camera from one site on two separate occasions (May and June 2017). Photogrammetry-derived pasture height was estimated from digital surface models created using the photos. Pasture indices were also measured using two currently available methods: a Rising Plate Meter (RPM), and Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Empirical pasture biomass measurements were taken using destructive sampling after all other measurements were made, and were used to evaluate the accuracy of the estimates from each method. There was a strong linear relationship between photogrammetry-derived plant height and actual biomass (R2=0.92May and 0.78June) and between RPM and actual biomass (R2=0.91May and 0.78June). The relationship between NDVI and actual biomass was relatively weaker (R2=0.65May and 0.66June). Photogrammetry could be an efficient way to measure pasture biomass with an accuracy comparable to that of the RPM but further work is required to confirm these preliminary findings.