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Exploring Soil Moisture, Weather & Forage Biomass Relationships


Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI) is working with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) to identify variables that could improve the accuracy of estimating forage yields for their forage production insurance products. Linear modeling and correlation analysis was completed using 12 years of historical weather, soil and forage clip data to determine if strong correlations exist between these variables. OCCI also conducted measurements and assessments during the 2022 and 2023 growing season to determine the suitability of different soil moisture probes and NDVI measurements for forage yield modeling.

In 2023, the project included an expanded scope of work to include Planet's Soil Water Content Variable as an additional dataset for forage yield modeling. OCCI also conducted a study to measure environmental variability within a township, specifically of environmental factors that influence forage growth.

This research will provide learning opportunities for AFSC in support of their Moisture Deficiency Insurance (MDI) Program, which compensates participating producers who experience low forage production due to a lack of soil moisture. Quantifying soil moisture may more easily enable all influencing factors — precipitation, temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind, and soil properties — to be considered for MDI claims.

Funders/Partners: AFSC

2022 Summary

Exploring Soil Moisture, Weather & Forage Biomass Relationships

In 2022, OCCI conducted two simultaneous projects with AFSC regarding forage yield prediction. One used historical datasets for linear modeling, and the second used numerous in-season measurements including two types soil moisture probes, weather variables captured by ACIS stations, NDVI and forage clippings to validate yield.

  • A total of six different linear models were developed.
  • Soil moisture probes measuring soil water tension were found to have a stronger correlation to forage yield in comparison to soil moisture probes measuring capacitance.

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