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Drought outlook tool first of its kind in Canada to predict conditions 30 days in advance

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There are few tools to help farmers know what to expect when dealing with the unpredictability of mother nature. As Quinn Campbell reports, a new drought outlook tool from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada is hoping to give farmers a glimpse into the future. – Jun 28, 2021

Most farmers would jump at the chance for a crystal ball to predict the weather.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said it has come up with the next best thing with its drought outlook tool.

“Basically, it is a map of conditions across Canada and where we suspect they will be 30 days into the future,” said agroclimate specialist Trevor Hadwen with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Read more: High heat and low precipitation has Alberta farmers worried

He said the detailed mapping tool is the first of its kind in Canada.

“We are taking current conditions of drought and looking into the future using Environment Canada’s forecast to provide an indication to know where we are leading to in the future,” he said.

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Read more: Saskatchewan farmers seeding despite droughts, floods and heavy winds

The hope is to give producers critical information to make major operational and financial decisions on their farm or ranch, both in peak seasons like spring seeding and fall harvest, and even in the thick of a drought situation.

“They might be making some decisions and holding back to see if things will improve in terms of selling livestock, for example, or making purchases of extra feed. If they see that conditions might improve, they might hold off a week or two to see if that forecast will lead to better conditions,” Hadwen said.

Read more: ‘There’s nothing you can do about it’: Drought threatens crops across Canada

The tool launched a few weeks ago and evaluations on the mapping are still being done.

Hadwen said he encourages all producers to report conditions and give feedback on the government’s online agroclimate impact reporter to assist with better data collection.

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