Farmers invited to join climate input program

Agroclimate reporting crucial to mitigating impacts on agriculture

A federally-funded agriculture reporting tool may expand beyond its current scope of the Peace River and Alberta, to include other areas of Canada.

The Agroclimate Impact Reporter (AIR) is an online tool for the collection, integration and display of agroclimate impact information across Canada. And for the tool to run effectively, it requires the participation of citizens — chiefly farmers — to input data on a regular basis.

The information will enable Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to better understand the local and regional effects of agroclimate conditions and identify emerging risks to the broader agricultural sector.

Participants can document and record events such as droughts and flooding, and the tool provides maps of such events.

AAFC explained via media release that “AIR is Canada’s first geospatial database of agroclimate impacts. It is managed by AAFC’s National Agroclimate Information Service (NAIS). Data are provided by a network of volunteers who submit monthly reports about the agroclimate impacts in their region. These reports complement other types of weather and climate data and play a valuable role in helping AAFC evaluate climate-related risks to agriculture.”

Users of the new online tool will be able to submit reports of weather impacts within their region (province, census district or municipality) by time period and by category and severity of impact. They will also be able to view counts of all weather impacts, display current or archived information as maps, search reports by user types, make data queries and overlay other existing or custom geospatial information. AIR simplifies on-the-ground data collection. Once a month, AIR volunteers complete a report of 20 to 30 questions; for example, “To what extent are you experiencing flood conditions in your area?”

It’s important information to be collected, and shared, AAFC said.

“Extreme weather events and climatic variability can have significant effects on Canada’s agricultural sector. Over the past 10 years, drought and excess moisture or flooding have resulted in enormous costs to the Canadian economy. Monitoring the impacts of weather on water supplies, soil degradation and agricultural production is essential to enable regions to make preparations to withstand climate extremes in a more informed manner.”

Currently, AIR involves industry partners and 300 volunteers across the prairies and into Peace River. The project began in the late 1990s and there are discussions to expand the program.

To learn more or to join the volunteer network, visit AIR at www.agr.gc.ca/air.

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