PP Tools

Pasture Paramedic- Frequently Asked Questions


Can I take measurements in late autumn?

Yes but…. the green assessment is based on a percentage.  So if there are bare spaces when the assessment is made or late germination, the observations will be misleading.


Could I use it in native grasses?

Yes but…the assessment thresholds are slightly different.  There is another Pasture Paramedic version being developed for lower rainfall regions which incorporates native grasses.

My rainfall is less than 500mm; can I still use Pasture Paramedic?

Yes but…… pick the right version.


Why was 10 measurements per paddock selected; shouldn’t it be at least 30?

The more the better but it’s a balance of number against accuracy.  More measurements will refine the scores but overwhelmingly gives the same decision point.

The important bit is to look for distinct differences before you start – so it may involve several observations within a paddock because the areas are different. For example it’s common to have strong phalaris in one part of paddock and a poor patch which may occur on a different soil type.

Should I assess all my paddocks or just the ones I’m concerned about?

Up to you.  It can be a useful way to understand how multiple paddocks rank against each other because a cheap intervention in one e.g. a spraygraze may be better than a more expensive need e.g. lime and gypsum.

How often should I use Pasture Paramedic?

Up to you. Pastures rarely change dramatically from one year to the next except under unusual circumstances e.g. drought and overgrazing, overgrown pastures from a never ending spring.  But most changes are gradual so every three years should be sufficient.


Isn’t 40% sub-clover too much?

No. Sub clover has the dual benefit of nitrogen for grass growth and improved animal performance.

Bloat can potentially be an issue with cattle but this can be managed. 

Could I have oestrogenic clovers?

Recent surveys suggest they are common in medium to high rainfall zones due to their high persistence capabilities, having been sown as commercial varieties or come in through seed contamination. Take the rapid oestrogenic likelihood test to check the likelihood you have them.

  1. Do you experience unusually low pregnancy rates or lambing rates?  (If no, less likely: If yes, more likely)
  2. Has the paddock been resown to sub- clover after 1970 and certified seed used?  (If yes, less likely: If no, more likely).

 If you answered no and yes to these questions, then the likelihood would be low. If you answered questions that indicated more likely then further investigation is worthwhile.

What score do I give my clovers if I find oestrogenic clovers in my assessment?

Score the clover content, but write beside it if it is oestrogenic. Paddocks considered at risk occur when 20% of the total pasture biomass is oestrogenic. Further investigation will need to occur before an informed decision can be made on paddock management. This information is in the MLA fact sheet How do I replace outclassed or troublesome sub-clover cultivars? https://sfs.org.au/project/more-sub-clover

Is there a laboratory that can test for oestrogens?

Yes there are a few options. Contact Dr Kevin Foster, University of Western Australia (UWA) to arrange for pasture samples to be tested. (Email: kevin.foster@uwa.edu.au). Larry Walker Southern Scientific Services, Hamilton or arrange testing through your local vet.

However, visual scoring is still necessary, as a paddock sample sent to the laboratory has no real value unless it’s related back to the percentage of oestrogenic clovers in the actual pasture base. 


What if I have other weeds which aren’t mentioned; how do I know what category they are?

Best to think about it under the headings of:

  • Contribute to feed supply (length of vegetative stage)
  • Do animals readily eat it
  • Any animal health issues

Most will fall into category B. The categories for different weeds aren’t set in concrete and you can score the dominate weed on how it impacts your enterprise.

Why isn’t weed content assessed?

It can be inferred from the remaining % of grasses and clovers. There is provision to record the dominant weeds. More investigation would be required if dominant weeds scores are low meaning it is contributing little to the feed supply.

Insect damage

Why aren’t insect pests considered?

Pests are likely to impact on the observed grasses, clovers or weeds meaning their contribution may be lower.

Perennial grasses

Won’t perennial ryegrass, phalaris, tall fescue and cocksfoot recruit seedlings that can increase desirable live plant numbers in autumn?

Perennial ryegrass and cocksfoot are more likely to than phalaris or tall fescue but to achieve recruitment you need to do certain things.  We consider this a possible manipulation technique if grass content was low.

What if I can’t tell the difference between perennial ryegrass and annual grass?

Annual ryegrass has a rolled emerging leaf and perennial ryegrass a folded emerging leaf.  Check the manual for additional tips (Page 47). But it probably won’t make much difference at the assessment stage.  Annual ryegrass is considered a Cat A weed, so if it is the dominate weed it will get a score of 3.  If you assess it as perennial ryegrass and greater than 50% it will score 5.  So, there is not a big difference.  However, it is important to know the difference to make pasture improvements.  


Isn’t ground cover and amount of dry material covering the ground the same thing?

No.  Groundcover refers to proportion of soil covered by dry material.  Dry material covering the ground refers to the amount of material. It is possible to have 100% groundcover but only 1000 kg/ha or 100% groundcover with 4,000 kg DM/ha. 


My neighbour wants a kit; where do I get one from?

Kits are currently available via training workshops or from watching the Pasture paramedic video and then requesting a copy through MLA’s website.

Visit    Pasture Paramedic | Meat & Livestock Australia (mla.com.au)

Is there an app for recording pasture paramedic measurements?

Not currently, but let us know if this is something you think would be useful by contacting office@sfs.org.au

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