Frequently Asked Questions

About Pastures from Space Plus

Does Pastures from Space Plus require high internet speed connectivity?

Pastures from Space Plus does not require excessive internet downloading to operate. To test how Pastures from Space Plus will work with the internet connection in your area, try the free demonstration farm on the homepage, as the requirements and functionality will be exactly the same as it will be with your own farm.

Does Pastures from Space Plus have the same important features as the previous version?

Yes, and more. It still offers Pasture Growth Rates, Feed On Offer, Total Dry Matter, NDVI and rainfall data, but with the addition of hi-res Landsat 8 imagery.

How do I know if my farm is covered by Pastures from Space Plus?

Pastures from Space Plus is intended for use by properties located within the intensive agricultural regions of southern Australia.

How is Pastures from Space Plus different to pre-2015 versions?

PfS Plus now includes the facility to map your own paddocks, saving you money by not needing a third party to do it for you. Also new in PfS Plus is a quick and easy-to-read summary report on all of the paddocks showing the PGRs, FOOs and change in FOO for the week.

The report can be sorted on either of these or by paddock name. There is also a stocking rate calculator for each paddock which uses the actual PGR and FOO data reported for the paddock, taking away a lot of the guess work.

PfS Plus also includes the option of 30m resolution satellite imagery showing the current PGR, FOO and greenness (NDVI) levels within paddocks.

NB: This information is not utlised by the charting functionality.

Does PfS Plus have functionality that accommodates those who own or manage multiple farms?

Yes. Simply sign up as usual and you will be presented with the opportunity to add more farms. All farms and their data will be accessible under a convenient single login. Multi-farm discounts apply too!

Do you have a consultant’s version?

Yes. Simply sign up and you will be presented with the opportunity to add your clients’ farms. All farms and their data will be accessible under a convenient single login. Multi-farm discounts apply too!

I’m an existing subscriber, how do I renew my subscription?

Once logged in, click on the ‘Menu’ button (top right hand corner), then select ‘My Farms’. Next to each of your registered farms you will see an expiry date. The farm name will turn orange as the subscription expiry date approaches. You don’t need to do anything until your farm reaches its expiry date. At that point, you will be unable to access that farm, however you will be invited to renew with the click of a button. Have your credit card handy.

Am I able to modify my paddock boundaries upon subscription renewal?

Yes. At subscription renewal, you will be asked if you wish to change or modify existing paddock boundaries. If so, you will be required to redefine your entire farm. Unfortunately, the addition or deletion of individual paddocks is not possible. A new set-up fee ($99) will also apply to cover back processing costs of the new paddocks. Please be aware that historical data relating to any deleted paddocks will no longer be accessible.

If I let my subscription lapse, can I re-subscribe without incurring a set-up charge?

Yes. Simply click the ‘renew’ button and follow the easy steps.

If I don’t wish to renew my subscription, what should I do?

You don’t need to do anything.

Multi-farm functionality

How does multi-farm pricing work?

When you subscribe to Pastures from Space Plus, the first farm that you add will be priced at the full individual farm price (plus the once only set-up fee). As additional farms are added to your subscription, the discount level for the total farms you have in your subscription is applied to the farm you are adding. The discount is also applied to the once off set-up fee. As an example:

Bob subscribes to Pastures from Space Plus for a 400 ha farm he runs near Narrogin. His subscription price is $200 for 12 months plus the once off set-up fee of $99. His total is $299.

Bob then adds a second 400 ha farm in Kulin to his subscription. The price for this farm subscription receives a 15% discount, so the second 12 month subscription price is $170 plus the once off set-up fee of $84.15 totaling $254.15. His total for the two farms is now $299 + $254.15 = $553.15 representing a saving of $44.85.

If Bob adds a third farm to his subscription, that farm will also receive a 15% discount. If he then adds a fourth farm, the discount will increase to the next discount tier and that farm will receive a 20% discount. View all discount tiers.

Do I receive a discount for the more farms I add to my PfS Plus subscription?

Do multi-farm discounts also apply to the set-up fee?

Yes. The percentage discount applied to a multi-farm subscription applies to the corresponding set-up fee.

How does multi-farm discounting work at renewal?

As you add extra properties through the calendar year, you will be rewarded by receiving subscription discounts based on the number of farms under management.

For example:

Farm 1 – sign up early March – pay 100% subscription on initial subscription

Farm 2 – sign up late March – receive a 15% discount on second farm subscription

Farm 3 – sign up mid-April – receive a 15% discount on third farm subscription

Farm 4 – sign up early May- receive a 20% discount on the fourth farm subscription.

View full discount model.

Note, your cumulative farm count will reset to zero on 31December each year. What that means, is upon renewal of farm 1 in the following year, you will pay 100% of the subscription price. The existing discounts for farms 2, 3 and 4 will apply again upon their renewal.

Can I share a PfS Plus multi-farm subscription with my clients - so they can see what I see?

No. Not at the moment. This is being evaluated for future releases.

About Pastures from Space Plus satellite imagery

What is all the white on the Landsat image?

It is the cloud cover seen by the satellite as it passes over your farm.

Can the satellites see through cloud cover?

No, although there may be ways around this. One method is to use the next or previous data, or images may be taken from another satellite. The satellite images are used in combination with other data not constrained by cloud cover, such as rainfall and temperature readings.

What is MODIS imagery?

MODIS imagery has a resolution of 250m, i.e., each pixel is 250m x 250m or 6.25ha. MODIS imagery is processed weekly (on Wednesdays).

What is Landsat 8 imagery?

Landsat 8 imagery has a resolution of 30m, i.e., each pixel is 30m x 30m and orbits over the same region every 16 days (7 + 9 days in overlapping regions). However, because of this low orbital frequency, a cloud free composite image is often not possible and therefore the data is not used in the determination of weekly PGR, FOO and TDM values. Therefore, the Landsat 8 imagery is provided for visual assessment purposes only and must be considered as supplementary information only.

What are the benefits of me using Landsat 8 imagery?

Landsat 8 has benefits for both pastures and crops. With Landsat 8 imagery, you can see the differences within a paddock. For example, you can see which parts of a paddock are growing better than others, which parts of a paddock are being grazed more heavily than others and which parts of a paddock are recovering faster post-grazing. You can see which parts of the paddock are more productive than others, and hence where fence lines are better located. You can see which paddocks are performing better than others (on both sides of the fence). You can see where weeds are germinating following unseasonal rainfall and potentially which parts of the paddock are having moisture penetration issues.

Using Pastures from Space Plus

Can I download the data/export to Excel?

Yes you can. Once logged in, the ‘Download as CSV’ button can be found at the base of the paddock information panel on the left hand side.

Can I add my own rainfall data?

Not in this version. It is being evaluated for future releases. Currently we use Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) data.

Glossary

What does ‘daily green-feed intake’ mean when calculating my stocking rates?

This is how much green feed (in kg) an animal will eat per day.

How can I identify those scenes that are affected by cloud cover?

When viewing the Landsat images under 'View High Resolution Imagery', a percentage cloud estimate is displayed adjacent to most capture dates.

Can I add extra paddocks once I have registered my farm?

Yes, but it will cost more if you decide to add additional paddocks after your initial signup. A further set-up fee will apply.

If I delete paddocks from my farm, do I get a refund on my subscription?

No. Your subscription is for a 12 month period. You can change the number of paddocks at subscription renewal.

Can I view/interrogate individual pixel values?

Not in this version. It is being evaluated for future releases

Is there a geo-locator feature indicating where I am in relation to the satellite image?

Not in this version It is being evaluated for future releases

How do I identify paddock areas or management zones?

Once you register, you will be prompted to draw your paddock areas. The aim is to draw paddocks or management zones that you treat as a management unit. You will then be able to monitor the change in growth for these zones each week and back to 2004.

What is NDVI?

It is the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index. NDVI is a satellite-derived index which is sensitive to the amount of chlorophyll covering the ground. Essentially, NDVI shows how green the ground appears from the satellite.

Does NDVI show digestibility of vegetation?

NDVI will show which parts of a paddock is greener, but does not necessarily show digestibility. However, some farmers have noted that with the Landsat 8 images of NDVI, they can see which regions of a paddock are being grazed more than others.

Does a higher NDVI value indicate the greener the vegetation is in a paddock?

Yes. The higher the NDVI value, the more of the ground is covered by green vegetation. An NDVI of ~20 is when the ground is totally bare or the grass has completely dried off. An NDVI of ~80 is when the ground is completely covered in green vegetation.

What is the saturation point for NDVI?

NDVI saturates when the feed on offer gets to about 2500 kg/ha (for annual pastures).

What is the best way to use weekly NDVI data?

The best use of weekly NDVI data is graphing it for paddocks with similar crop or pasture type.

Graph a group of pasture paddocks in a single year to see which are greener, and which ones are recovering better post-grazing. It's also good for comparing a single paddock over multiple years and hence identifying analogous seasons.

What happens when I have high of green biomass but the satellite image shows all pink (meaning no PGR)?

It means that the biomass is growing at less than 10 kg/ha/day, or not at all. If there is new growth coming through underneath dead material then that would be shielding the new growth from being seen by the satellite.

The PGR model relies on BOM’s 5 km resolution climate data. When there is a combination of low bureau-estimated rainfall and high evaporation over a period PGR will think that soil moisture has all but gone and show a PGR = 0.

What is Feed on Offer® (FOO)?

This is an estimate of how much ‘green’ feed (in kg dry matter/hectare) is available in each annual pasture paddock.

Why are my FOO values considerably lower than actuals?

This can be caused due to several reasons:
  • Paddocks are too small and the relatively large pixels are detecting areas of lower FOO outside the paddock.
  • A pasture paddock is in its first year out of crop and the dead crop stubble is masking out the underlying green pasture.
  • The FOO values are only sensitive to green biomass and don't detect dry biomass. This can happen if pastures haven't been grazed and have dead material build up on top, again, masking out the underlying green pasture.
  • Different pasture species are growing in the paddock than the annual pasture species that the FOO model was derived from.
  • The conditions were too cloudy during the week and new growth hasn’t yet been detected by the satellite.

Why doesn’t the FOO index go higher than 1500 kg/ha?

A typical benchmark in our area is to have a minimum of 3000 kg/ha FOO at haying off.
The FOO calculation saturates at approximately 2500 kg dry matter per hectare. Once the ground is fully covered by green biomass it’s difficult for the satellite to measure FOO levels above this. You can see the estimated FOO value in the paddock report, or in the paddock information window at the bottom-right of the screen when you move the mouse over the paddock.

Does FOO only pick up green FOO?

Yes, the FOO reported in PFS Plus only detects green FOO.

Does PfS Plus provide a total of combined FOO and TDM for the whole property?

No. We haven't developed whole-of-property information because a lot of farms are a mixture of pasture and cropping. Including cropping paddocks in the property-level calculations would skew the numbers.

What are Pasture Growth Rates® (PGR)?

This is an estimate of how quickly (in kg dry matter/hectare/day) the pasture is growing each week.

How often is the PGR information updated?

The 250m resolution data is updated weekly (usually on Wednesday afternoons). Landsat 8 orbits over the same region every 16 days and is processed when made available by the USGS. In overlapping regions, Landsat 8 orbits every 7 + 9 days.

What is Total Dry Matter (TDM)?

This is an estimate of the gross primary production, or the total amount of pasture (in kg dry matter/hectare) that was grown over the year.