Introduction Calibration and validation of DST (also known as

Novel concept to allow automation of grazing management within a
dairy farm system
Diarmuid McSweeney1, Cathriona Foley1 , Christina Umstatter2, Paddy Halton3 and Bernadette O’Brien1.
1Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland.2Agroscope, Tänikon, CH-8356
Ettenhausen, Switzerland.3True North Mapping, Tullyglass Hill, Shannon, Co. Clare, Ireland.
Development of virtual fence
technology for intensive grazing
The aim of this project is to develop (i) a decision support
tool (DST) with global positioning system (GPS)
capability, that precisely measures herbage mass and
allows accurate and automatic allocation of the grazing
area, combined with (ii) an on-cow virtual fencing (VF)
system (also with GPS), to allow the fine resolution control
of each cow at an individual and herd level, and which
could replace electric fences in grazing management and
might lead to a fully automated system.
An automated grazing guidance system on the basis of VF
technology is currently under development and testing.
The VF technology with GPS and it’s operation sequence
is shown in Figure 2.
Calibration and validation of DST
(also known as “Grasshopper”)
The “Grasshopper” has been developed and it’s operation
sequence is shown in Figure 1. Calibration and validation
of the “Grasshopper” against the Jenquip rising plate
meter is currently on its way.
(1) Command sent from smart device to receiver,
(2) converted into a radio signal and sent to an antenna,
(3) command then sent from antenna to the cows VF collars and the
response to the command is returned back to the radio antenna
(4) transfers the data logged back to the base station via the internet
(5) GPS correction data is generated on-site before being processed for
an individual cow.
(1) The DST makes a connection to a satellite.
(2) On a smart phone app the operator pre-selects the measuring area
and inputs other data required to calculate the herbage mass.
(3) Grass height measurements are then taken by the DST.
(4) The data is transferred to the smart phone app and the operator is
informed of the grass height, herbage mass and where to place the
(virtual) fencing wire within the paddock to achieve an accurate
grazing allocation.
Figure 1: A) Decision support tool (DST) network and communication
infrastructure required to estimate precise herbage mass within a paddock.
B) The Grasshopper and smart phone/tablet application in operation.
Figure 2: Virtual fence (VF) communication network and infrastructure
required to contain cows within an inclusion zone and to allocate pasture area
for grazing.
Research is progressing on the refinement of the DST and
VF and in combining these technologies. It is anticipated
that this study will optimize pasture utilization and
advance the precision of grazing management .
The research has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program under ICT-AGRI era-net 2012 (Project: ICTGRAZINGTOOLS).
Walsh Fellowship funding from Teagasc is also recognized.Finally, the authors thank Teagasc staff and placement students for facilitating and assisting with
this study.
[email protected]