How do I assess ground cover?

Ground cover is anything organic that will intercept the fall of a rain drop and stop it from impacting bare soil. This includes the pasture species themselves, organic litter on the ground, manure and sticks. Managing ground cover is one of the most important things you can do to have productive and sustainable pastures.

Look around the land type and work out an average from what you see. Frequently check small areas on the ground in front of you gain a feel for the average amount of cover. Use the ground cover photo standards within the Stocktake Plus app to help with your assessment. Take into account larger scalded areas in your average. Remember, this is a broad scale assessment and is not meant to be deļ¬nitive. You will get a feel for these measurements with practice.

As a rule of thumb, ground cover less than 50% indicates that the soil may be exposed to significantly high levels of water runoff. Not only can this strip away top soil (causing downstream sediment issues and reducing overall productivity) but also reduces the amount of infiltration.