A look at agriculture from space

A look at agriculture from space
Nov 20, 2020

The Canadian Space Agency wants to help producers by providing helpful data from space-based observations of Earth

Staff Writer

The Canadian Space Agency wants to step up to the plate to provide farmers with more data to support their management decisions.

Eric Laliberté is the director general, space utilization at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). His presentation at the 2020 Farms.com Virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase on Nov. 17 highlighted how the CSA can help farmers.

“The whole purpose of looking at agriculture from space is basically to help with on-the-ground decisions,” he said. “The goal that we seek is to collect data that's needed to support the development of analytical software in order to generate information required to support decision making and ensure the information is available.”

One way the CSA can do this work is through satellites. CSA can use this technology to support the ag industry in seven ways

  • monitor plant growth
  • assess soil and crop health
  • better forecast precipitation and risk of crop disease
  • assess soil moisture
  • avoid waste of fertilizer, pesticides and water
  • maximize crop yields
  • facilitate sustainable management

“This is all about data transformed into actionable information and space-based data is combined with aerial and on-the-ground measurements to develop this information,” said Laliberté.

Companies in Canada use space-based observation of the Earth and advanced analytics to develop online services customers can use to pinpoint and better manage unproductive or problematic areas of farmland. This use and capability of type of technology is expected to grow and help farmers in the future, said Laliberté.

“It is estimated that the increased use of space-based Earth observation technologies within the Canadian agriculture sector could produce cost savings for Canadian farmers of up to $1.3 billion over the next decade,” he said.

The CSA will focus on collaborating with different sectors in Canada, including the ag industry, to help improve technology.

“We're changing the table around and making sure that we're not building a satellite for the sake of building a satellite, and certainly not trying to push their capabilities onto users. We want to make sure that we're building the capability that responds to identified needs,” said Laliberté.

The hope is communication between the ag industry and CSA will continue to improve to help everyone involved.

“We need to understand your needs and you need to understand the capabilities,” said Laliberté. “Don't be strangers. Let us know your challenges so we can help you feed the passengers of humanity’s spacecraft.”

Harvepino/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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