Using a plate meter can help you graze your pastures more efficiently.

Investing in a plate meter has helped Charles Fletcher, of KBC Dairy near Purdy, Mo., improve his grass management. With the plate meter, he says, “we were able to graze the paddocks more efficiently and reduce fertilizer inputs.”

Fletcher or his wife walks each paddock weekly. As they walk diagonally across each five-acre paddock, they push the plate meter down on the ground with each step. (It’s similar to walking with a cane.) Each time the plate meter is pushed down on top of the grass, it measures the amount of resistance from the grass. A little computer attached to the plate meter keeps track of each reading across the field and provides an average for the field. This resistance correlates to the amount of grass dry-matter available per acre, making it easier to determine the best time to rotate cows in and out of each paddock.