SAINT-HUBERT — As technology accelerates, space can play a huge role in the future of farming.
The Canadian Space Agency is looking to hear from industries of all kinds, including agriculture, about how the agency can use its satellites to harness better and more information.
Of course, farmers aren’t experts in space and satellites. But they do know what problems they have and what sort of data they could use, said the agency’s director of space utilization Eric Laliberte. That’s what the agency is looking for from farmers.
Apart from the obvious use of GPS in precision agriculture and weather forecasting, satellites these days are powerful enough and take broad enough pictures to monitor canola growth in the Prairies. A scientist with Ag Canada took some of that data and used it to build a disease risk monitoring application for canola. Statistics Canada uses satellite data to do its annual yield forecasts.
The goal, ultimately, is to be able to bring data “from satellites to smart phones,” said Laliberte. And it’s one that the agency thinks could pay big dividends. “If we could just increase the use of space in farming a little bit, there could be savings in the order of $1.3 billion in the next decade,” for the ag sector, he said. It’s both about making better use of the data the agency already collects and getting it working on new ideas down the road, he said.
The agency is looking to improve its two-way communication with farmers and send up a dedicated contact line for ideas. In the meantime, farmers can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.