Greener Pastures

Livestock production and expansive prairie grasslands have been core components of agriculture in our Western Canadian identity for more than 150 years. All the while, ranches, farms and rural communities have shown incredible resilience by overcoming significant challenges posed by a harsh geography and climate, unpredictable weather events, famine, war, pests and disease.

Many of these challenges have been remedied, but the uncertainty of extreme water-related events remain.

PastureTech.com is the home of research projects that are changing the way we look at weather, pasture and water movement. Through state of the art satellite imaging and hydrologic modeling technologies, the insurance industry may soon be better equipped to provide Alberta ranchers and farmers with risk management solutions that suit their needs and protect their livelihood.

Satellite Imaging

We know that by using remote sensing capabilities of satellites orbiting the Earth, we can efficiently measure light reflecting off of pasture across North America as an indicator of organic growth. But can we use this technology to measure pasture production for individual pastures over time? Does the measured light (NDVI) correlate well enough to the amount of pasture growing on the ground to be used as a reliable source of information when developing insurance programs?

We hope that answers to these questions will lead to the creation of an agriculture insurance program through which pasture producers may be able to submit an insurance claim if their pasture has produced substantially less in a given year than average (normal production). We also hope that our research will allow for the creation of risk management tools that can protect ranchers against the extra costs of buying feed or transporting cattle to a better area in the midst of an area-wide production shortage.

Over the course of the next 2-3 years, we will post regular updates to this website that explain our research, share results and encourage producers to provide feedback on our methods and ideas.

Hydrology Modelling

Our hydrology project titled “South Saskatchewan River Basin Hydrologic Modeling to Support Agricultural Risk Management”, is taking a close look at how water moves through the entire hydrological cycle and is used by agricultural producers. We want to know how water collects on the surface of the earth, moves overland, through soil and into the atmosphere.

With this information, we hope to collect accurate information for a model that can be used by the insurance industry to support viable risk management tools and protect agricultural producers against the formidable threats of drought and flooding. We are hopeful that the model developed in this project will have broader applications outside the agriculture industry as well.

Feedback

The primary purpose of this website is to take questions and comments from the pasture producers and insurance providers who have the most to benefit from the findings of our research.

We hope that you will let us know when you have questions or concerns about our project or website by leaving comments on the individual blog posts, or by submitting feedback through our form.

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