Sward stick and Platemeter

Solution name: Sward stick and Platemeter

Aim: To help in quantifying grass in the field (how to measure grass?)


The sward stick and board

  • A ruler and compression board to measure grass heights, the ruler contains a conversion table from cm to kg/dry matter per hectare.


  • A manual or electronic device used to calculate the density of the sward and converts it to a kg/dry matter per hectare measurement.


How to implement:

Walk the field in a W-shape taking your board and sward stick or Platemeter.

Put the Board on the sward to compress the grass, put the sward stick against and take the reading. The more times you measure in the field the better the average. The sward stick has 5 different calibrations. Spring, late spring, summer, autumn, winter take the reading at the time of year measured. Optimum grazing zone is 8cm and 4cm for sheep with lambs at foot.

Platemeters do the measurements for you, most electronic platemeters require 30 plonks (measurements) per field to give you the average. Depending on the model, some save the result automatically and others you have to manually record.

Sward stick and platemeters measure grass supply in kg of dry matter and from that value we can find out how much of grass can meet the demand of stock.

Topic: Nutrition/Management

Production:  Meat/Dairy

Animal Category: All

Issue: Grassland and grazing management

Level of Solution: Practical

Country: UK






Expected benefits

Expected benefits:

Able to quantify grass in kg dry matter allowing correct stocking rate to be set and accurate feed budgeting to occur. Measuring grass helps improve grassland management practices.

Prerequisites and/or limits (knowledge, training, capabilities, cost, management, facilities, equipment, etc.):

  • Must be done by the same person, consistency is key. Regular grass walks every 2 weeks is advised. The grass measured must be representative of the field.
  • The Platemeter must be calibrated before use with excess grass removed from base as this may skew results.