Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Grassometer to take stress out of field measurement

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

If completing a grass budget calculation has ever left you with a headache, an Irish invention is set to make your life a whole lot easier.

The Grassometer does exactly as it suggests and, like all the best ideas, this gadget is beautifully simple.

The device relies on ultrasound wave technology to measure the volume of grass in a field. It is designed to be clipped to a wellington boot and will take a measurement with every step.

The data is then transmitted via Bluetooth to a smartphone, where an 'app' will do all the calculations for the farmer.

The device is the brainchild of TV producer Steven Lock and Trinity researchers.

"It was a series of happy coincidences that led to the idea," said Mr Lock.

"I was making 'A Year On The Land' for TV3 when I first came across this whole concept of grass measurement. Around the same time I met the head of knowledge transfer at Trinity at my son's football match one Sunday morning.

"He suggested that I apply for a €5,000 innovation voucher to develop a grass measurement app for farmers' smartphones. The idea was to link up the plate meter with a smartphone. But the Trinity researcher who was assigned to the project came back to me with the idea of using ultra-sound technology."

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The device just landed a €50,000 grant from Enterprise Ireland's Competitive Start Fund, but Mr Lock says that his company, Monford Ag Systems, needs a multiple of this in additional investment to turn the prototype into a commercial reality.

Teagasc estimates that measuring grass length accurately is worth about €120/cow annually. However, Mr Lock, believes that the real value in Grassometer will come from the database that it could create.

Mr Lock hopes to have the Grassometer available by next spring. It should cost no more than a rising plate meter and he aims to market it to more than 100,000 farmers worldwide.

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