Pasture mapping app helps make grazing decisions

The program is designed to make it easier to assess forage, determine stocking rates and decide where to put fences and water sources

SMITHERS, B.C. — Christine Su wants to be part of a movement to make a healthy planet.

Raised in California, Su wanted to know more about food production and eventually found work on a dairy farm. She was interested in regenerative agriculture, in which integrated approaches are adopted to improve soil health using grazing and other agronomic practices to build organic matter, sequester more carbon and improve the water cycle.

Along the way she earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a master’s degree in land use and agriculture from the Stanford School of Earth Sciences.

She ultimately became a co-founder and chief executive officer of PastureMap, an application and web platform designed to help farmers and ranchers track activities on their land.

“I could have developed a dating app,” she said at the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting, which was held in Smithers May 31-June 2.

Instead, she wanted to help those on the land use technology to map their grazing, keep records and make better decisions to improve the soil and grasslands.

“A lot of folks just use it for grazing, but I am very interested in what we can learn in collective data networks,” she said.

The app keeps all the farm data in one place.

Most recently, the company has worked with an ecological monitoring group that is sharing its data to see where it fits with others in northern California. The data can show soil carbon outcomes, soil horizons and other relevant data.

“We are telling the soil regeneration story with data backup,” she said.

Using this level of technology on the ranch is just the beginning.

“We will be inundated with data as technology gets more advanced, but we need to pull the useful pieces of data to arrive at a conclusion,” she said.

The maps aggregate Apple Map, Google Earth and other programs that can be integrated to give a land manager the best picture of what is happening on his property.

Ranchers can use the app on a Smartphone without cell reception and map a landscape. From there they can set up paddocks, assess forage availability and stocking rates, decide where to put fences and water sources and calculate how many rest and recovery days are needed.

Users may enter notes, including pasture start height, projected end height, grazing time and grass ratings.

Over time, the app also collects data on rainfall and soil conditions to predict future growth in the area.

About 10,000 graziers in 40 countries are using Pasture Map and eventually there is potential to share information among the users.

While this is useful information for those planning grazing and rebuilding soil, others are also interested in their results.

In California, movements are afoot to promote certified carbon friendly beef. Restaurants promote it on their menus as soil healthy food, and carbon friendly beef could hit the shelves within the next five years.

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