Better Biodiversity for Better Stewardship

Cow and calf

Stewardship encompasses the challenges, problems, and opportunities to work with land and nature. Efforts to conserve natural resources date thousands of years, and this work continues today by many farmers and ranchers.

“When you talk about land stewardship,” says Mike Komp, director of business development for Enriched Ag, “it’s really about what’s been entrusted to you as a person and taking care of those natural resources.”

And while the concept is timeless, new technologies are transforming capacities to strengthen land productivity. Enriched Ag, a company dedicated to using artificial intelligence and machine learning for monitoring agriculture at scale, is a leader in developing cutting-edge tools for land and grazing management. Komp shares more about how Enriched Ag products — including a new Plant Diversity Monitor — help pastures perform at their best.

Next level management

As spring transitions to summer, invasive species treatment becomes crucial to promoting biodiversity in pastures. Monocultures are more susceptible to drought and environmental concerns, which creates the risk for an entire species to be wiped out. The presence of multiple species ensures there is always a growing plant in the ground during growing season, which puts carbon in the ground to promote water quality and quantity, Komp explains.

“We know that invasives are the biggest detractor of biodiversity in range and pasture ecosystems,” he says. For this reason, the Enriched Ag team released a first-of-its-kind Plant Diversity Monitor to track biodiversity throughout pastures and properties.

The tool tracks biodiversity via images captured by Enriched Ag Vision, a camera equipped to a ranch vehicle. Specifically, the tool’s underlying machine learning model identifies different plant classes — such as forbs, trees, grass, shrubs and cacti — within each picture. The model is trained on ground-truth data from domain knowledge experts.

“It’s the first tool that allows you to monitor plant class diversity at scale quickly, as compared to some of the historical methods that required a lot of time and on-the-ground activities,” Komp notes.

Ultimately, Vision users can leverage the Plant Diversity Monitor to pinpoint invasive species, under-performing pastures, areas of restoration and conservation, and other problems that stem from a lack of biodiversity. The monitor builds on Enriched Ag’s foundational tools to help users understand how they’re balancing forage with animal use to optimize stocking rate over the course of a grazing season.

“All these things tie back to resource conservation concerns and meeting those bigger stewardship goals,” Komp says. “Everything we do is about working with nature to help producers be more profitable, alongside meeting all of their environmental and ecological goals.”

— The Enriched Ag Team

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