Sward Density

How much space is there between the forage species in your pasture? How tight is the sward? Is it tight, with little space between plants? Are there gaps between plants, at ground level? Or are there large patches where plants are absent?

What to record

  • A score of 1-5 where:
    • 1. 0 – 20% Cover – Sparse – little or no vegetation, grass/forages absent from much of the plot
    • 2. 20-40% Cover – Partial – some vegetation, still many areas absent
    • 3. 40-60% Cover – Equal – covered and uncovered areas about equal
    • 4. 60-80% Cover – Dense – most area covered, some space between plants (at base)
    • 5. 80-100% Cover – Complete – tight sward, little or no gaps between plants
  • Photos


  • Quadrat

How to do the test

1. Decide whether you want to test the field more generally (under the W walk category), or repeatedly test a specific sample site over time (using the GPS feature to find the same sample location). Read more info here on how to do a W walk.

2. Within the quadrat push away any mulch, or leaf cover and see what bare soil is revealed (or how densely the vegetation is growing).

3. Record in the app how dense the cover is on a scale 1-5.

4. Take a picture, facing downwards, showing most or all of the quadrat