New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra is considering using satellite-based imaging technology to improve management of its massive dairy herd in New Zealand, according to the company which developed the technology.

According to CSIRO Livestock Industries, Fonterra is currently researching the commercial feasibility of the ‘Pastures from Space’ system, which utilises satellites orbiting 700 kilometres above Earth to estimate the amount of feed available in pastures.

The technology can provide information on pasture biomass at the paddock level for any area over six hectare and has been used successfully in Australia. Research into the suitability of the technology to New Zealand is to be conducted on dairy pastures in the Waikato region of New Zealand over several years.

CSIRO programme leader, Dr Rob Kelly, says more precise estimations of feed enable farmers to better manage activities like fertiliser application, grazing rotations and feed budgeting.