The system's goal is to seasonally balance forage produced on the farm and forage needed by livestock.
John Galbraith, assistant professor of crop and soil environmental sciences, said, "Unlike the real-world experience, when trying the computer model, the farmer is not forced to invest anything more than a few minutes of time to test the potential improvements to be gained from rotational grazing."
Using PLMS, a farmer can explore using intensive grazing, manipulating stocking rates, and modifying forage species to improve productivity and profit, while also benefiting the environment.
PLMS provides nearly instant feedback on how user-generated alternative grazing systems affect such critical variables as farm profit, milk production, and pounds of beef to market. It also estimates the environmental consequences of alternative plans from effects on soil erosion to influences on greenhouse-gas emissions.
A multidisciplinary team, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), ISIS Labs, LLC, and Virginia Tech, is developing PLMS.
Funding has been provided by NRCS, as well as by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Ruminant Livestock Efficiency Program (RLEP), and a Southern Region Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE) Program Training and Education Grant.