2.0 Sward Density

Sward Density

Soil health indicator: how dense is your sward on a scale of 1-5

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?


  • Quadrat

Doing 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 to place the quadrat).
  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

What to record in the Soilmentor app:

  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

and don’t forget to take a photo!


Scoring sward density with John Cherry at Weston Park Farms: