Micro-sonic sensor technology enables enhanced grass height measurement by a Rising Plate Meter

D. McSweeney, N. E. Coughlan, R. N. Cuthbert, P. Halton, S. Ivanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, the Rising Plate Meter (RPM) is a device used to measure compressed sward height, to enable estimation of herbage mass. Despite improved farm management practices aided by a variety of technological advances, the standard design of a RPM has remained relatively unchanged. Recently, however, a RPM utilising a micro-sonic sensor, with digital data capture capability via a Bluetooth communications link to a smart device application, has been developed. Here, we assess the comparable ability of both a standard cumulative ratchet counter RPM and the micro-sonic sensor RPM, to accurately and precisely measure fixed heights. Moreover, as correct allocation of grazing area requires accurate geolocation positioning, we assess the associated GPS technology. The micro-sonic sensor RPM was significantly more accurate for height capture than the cumulative ratchet counter RPM. Overall, across all heights, the cumulative ratchet counter RPM underestimated height by 7.68 ± 0.06 mm (mean ± SE). Alternatively, the micro-sonic sensor RPM overestimated height by 0.18 ± 0.08 mm. In relation to a practical applications, these discrepancies can result in an under- and overestimation of dry matter yield by 13.71% and 0.32% kilograms per hectare, respectively. The performance of the on-board GPS did not significantly differ from that of a tertiary device. Overall, the wireless technology, integrated mapping, and decision support tools offered by the innovative micro-sonic sensor RPM provides for a highly efficacious grassland management tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalInformation Processing in Agriculture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Decision support systems
  • Dry matter yield
  • Grassland
  • Precision agriculture
  • Rising plate meter
  • Wireless sensor network


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