The main objective of this study was to calibrate a commercial capacitance probe for measuring pasture dry matter yields under Mediterranean conditions. The standard method of assessing pasture biomass is based on cutting all the forage within a specified area and requires great effort and expense to collect enough samples to accurately represent a pasture. The field tests were carried out in 2007, 2008 and 2009 on different dates (phenological stages), and on five dairy farms, representing typical pastures in the region (grasses; legumes; and bio-diverse flora, mixture of grasses, legumes and others species). The linear regression techniques used in 2007 to relate the weight of the herbage (direct measurements) to the meter reading of capacitance (indirect measurements) led to high regression coefficients in grasses (R2 = 0.90; P < 0.01) and heterogeneous botanical composition (R2 = 0.87; P < 0.001) and moderate regression coefficient in legumes species (R2 = 0.48; P < 0.05). The validation of the calibration equations in 2008 and 2009 in two sites showed RSME values of 130 kg ha−1 in heterogeneous botanical composition and 456 kg ha−1 in legumes. The results indicated that the capacitance probe together with a GPS receiver might support site-specific management of pastures which would be useful in large areas.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: May 11, 2011
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