A new web application is designed to provide farmers with more accurate yield forecasts.
Crop Metrics is an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada app that allows farmers to get accurate data in one place for in-season crops. It is focused on 11 crops including corn, soybeans, canola, durum, spring and winter wheat.
“(It) brings together numerous data sets that are all related to in-season crop production,” says Catherine Champagne with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “We wanted to bring them all into one place, to have a tool that would allow farmers and individuals more broadly in the agriculture sector, to examine yield forecasts and new estimates in historical context, and in spatial context of what factors are driving yields.”
Information on weather, pests and risk factors, such as drought or diseases, are provided from reliable sources, according to the government. The data then predicts how these conditions will affect crop growth.
The idea to bring this project together came from market analysts, says Champagne.
Why it matters: Having access to this information provides the opportunity to change farming practices, if needed, to reduce economic losses and inefficiencies. As well, the tool provides the ability to plan transportation or broker commodities.
“They are trying to assess what the production will be at the end of the year. When there are adverse weather conditions we often get the question, ‘how is this going to affect yields at the end of the year?’ So we have developed a model for forecasting yields and the yields estimates from that are embedded in this tool.”
Viewers are able to look at the estimated yields, and the variability within these estimates but can also view the data sets that have been put into the model to see what conditions are leading to this particular yield forecast.
The data sets are compiled from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (including the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network), Environment and Climate Change Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial governments.
The data sets are timed to be updated with the yield forecasts, which are updated monthly four times a year.
“We are working internally on trying to increase that, but right now it’s a monthly forecast that comes out. The first one comes out at the beginning of July, then the beginning of August, beginning of September and the fourth one the beginning of October, which is just for corn and soybean crops.”
The tool is publicly available, but would be most useful to farmers, agronomists and economists looking to understand historical yields, production trends from previous years and current harvest yield forecasts, including local production averages.
“The program is focused for each crop type. You can select a crop type and a region on the map, zoom in the area that you want and it will show where that crop is across Canada. You can then explore the dynamics of the weather and various factors for that region.”
The tool can be found at agr.gc.ca/atlas/cropmetrics.