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Quantitative mapping of pasture biomass using satellite imagery

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A knowledge of the amount of pasture biomass available in farm paddocks is crucial for improving utilization and productivity in the Australian grazing industry. A method to quantitatively map the biomass of annual pastures under grazing has been developed using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from high-resolution satellite imagery. Relationships between field-measured pasture biomass and the NDVI were examined for different transects in paddocks under different grazing regimes across three geographically dispersed farm sites. A significant linear relationship (R2 = 0.84) was observed when the NDVI was regressed against biomass. The slope of the relationship between the NDVI and biomass declined in a highly predictable (R2 = 0.82) exponential form as the growing season progressed and this pattern was consistent across four separate seasons. This knowledge was used to formulate a reliable model to predict paddock average pasture biomass using the NDVI. The model estimates were validated against observed biomass in the range 500-4000 kilograms of dry matter per hectare (kg DM ha-1) with R2 = 0.85 and a standard error of 315 (kg DM ha-1).

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: CSIRO Livestock Industries, Private Bag No. 5, Wembley, WA, Australia 2: Department of Earth System Science and Policy, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA 3: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 444 Albany Highway, Albany, WA, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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