A government agency in Canada, the world’s second-largest wheat exporter, may use satellite images to estimate production for a harvest-season report rather than surveying thousands of farmers by telephone.
Statistics Canada, which releases eight crop reports annually based on farmer surveys, will evaluate the accuracy of satellite images to estimate yields and production, Jeffrey Smith, the director of the agriculture division, said by telephone from Ottawa. The results will be compared with this month’s government survey of farmers.
The agency, which is seeking C$33.9 million ($32.8 million) in budget cuts by next year, will decide by March 31 whether the images are sufficient to make its annual September forecast, which will be released this year on Oct. 4, Smith said. The primary motivation for considering the switch was to decrease the amount of time that farmers spend responding to surveys during the harvest, he said.
"We’re not trying to reduce the information or make big cost reductions," Smith said."We’re looking for ways to do our work better. Satellite technology is interesting, and it’s innovative."