Extreme weather and climate-induced natural disasters are major concerns for farmers. Monitoring drought, crop condition and soil moisture provides farmers with crucial information to adapt to and mitigate the risks associated with extreme weather.
Key data and information sources come from optical and microwave Earth-observation satellites such as RADARSAT-2. The Canadian Space Agency is working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to build models that will improve agricultural decision making and increase the ability to manage damaging events.
Efforts are also under way to use remote-sensing data from RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 to precisely map flood damage and to help assess losses for insurance claims, which can amount to some $1 billion a year in Canada alone.
This is vital for a number of reasons. One, modern farms are so large that farmers sometimes don’t know when some of their fields have been affected by hail or frost. Remote-sensing data can help insurance adjusters and farmers accurately assess such damage. Two, the system will help reduce the number of assessors needed to evaluate claims. Farmers hope that RADARSAT data will eventually lead to a reduction in their insurance premiums.
This piece features an animated map that shows changes in soil moisture and the risk of drought in the Canadian prairies – both presently, as well as predicted future changes.