Date of Graduation

Fall 2018


Master of Science in Plant Science (Agriculture)


Environmental Plant Science and Natural Resources

Committee Chair

William McClain


forages, rotational grazing dairies, irrigation, ultrasonic sensor, pasture

Subject Categories

Agricultural Science | Agronomy and Crop Sciences


The amount and timing of rainfall in Missouri can be very irregular. This causes issues for producers of agronomic products in the state who rely on forages for income. The most sensible approach to the problem is the use of irrigation. But there is little useful information to reference when implementing this management decision. By studying three different styles of irrigation (center pivot, spider, and k-line) on 4 species of forages native to Missouri (alfalfa, crabgrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue/clover), this study provides valuable insight as to the cost and benefit of irrigation. The main goal is to produce information that will allow owners to develop systems that increase their profitability as well as remain sustainable. This includes measuring forage effects from irrigation, the type of irrigation, forage species response and the associated cost with irrigation. To accomplish this, measurements were taken from paddocks scattered throughout these dairies on the forage height using an ultrasonic sensor mounted to an allterrain vehicle (atv). Calibration cuttings were assigned throughout the year to give relative pounds per acre for each crop at associated heights. The readings were then passed through the neural network which performs replications based on the original raw data to provide growth rates. Irrigation rates will be determined by farm managers on a per farm per paddock basis.


© Zachary Davis

Open Access