Estimating Herbage Mass with Drought Resilient Pasture Landscapes

29th Aug 2023

How accurate are our visual estimates of herbage mass? Are you worried about how much feed you have available, as conditions dry?
University of New England pasture coach Jaimi-lee Edwards said that uncertainty about estimating herbage mass (pasture availability) can undermine confidence in the feed budgeting process, and that’s not warranted.
“It’s normal to feel unsure about estimating herbage mass, especially when there are higher tussocks interspersed with shorter pasture,” Jaimi-lee said.
“Using pasture height and estimates of pasture density is a proven method for ensuring those estimates are good enough for feed budgeting purposes.”
During the third round of coaching sessions held as part of the Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes Grants Program, pasture height was measured then cut to ground using a 50cm square quadrat.
On average for the 20 paddocks measured across the New England, there was about 350kg dry matter/ha for every centimetre of pasture height.
“An average pasture height of 6cm would equate to 2,100kg dry matter/ha of herbage mass,” Jaimi-lee explained.
“When measuring pasture height, we don’t measure to the very tops of the stems but rather to the average height of the leaves (green or dead).”
Members of the coaching groups enter these numbers, along with information about pasture quality, livestock and climate into their Ag360 accounts (you can create a free account at, which then gives six monthly forecasts of herbage mass.
“These pasture forecasts generated by Ag360 are a complete feed budgeting service done for you,” said Jaimi-lee.
For more information on the Drought Resilient Pasture Landscapes contact and upcoming workshops, please visit the Southern New England Landcare website
This project received funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.