31 May 2024

W@llHerbe, a decision-making tool for grazing management

Workshops with farmers have enabled us to co-construct a decision-making tool based on land observation and modelling approaches in order to monitor grass growth and optimise grazing.

As part of the Sunshine project, an approach based on earth observation data (e.g. satellite images) coupled with a grass growth model has been designed. The solution proposed is based on an extensive three-year data collection campaign (grass height, biomass, floristic composition, etc.) in Wallonia. This data will be used to calibrate the methodology to Wallonia’s soil and climate conditions. Ultimately, the project aims to include all this information in an online decision support tool (DST) for livestock farmers.


Despite substantial government support for the development of decision support tools in the agricultural sector, in practice they are rarely adopted or used by Walloon livestock farmers. This is why the Sunshine project has adopted a participatory methodology to involve farmers in the design process of the future DST.


Individual semi-structured interviews were first conducted with 11 dairy, suckling and mixed farms. These interviews enabled us to document the contrasting ways in which grazing is managed, to gather the farmers’ ideas and to quickly put together an initial prototype.


Three workshops were then organised in Hainaut with the help of the Parc Naturel des Plaines de L’Escaut et du Pays des Collines, in the province of Liège with the help of Eleveo, and in Libramont with CRA-W. Breeders were able to try out and review the prototype; they then took part in a small innovation tournament where they designed/proposed new functionalities for the DST in small groups.


The W@llHerbe IT development team is carefully studying the functionalities proposed by breeders, and a second, improved version of the prototype should see the light of day in 2024.