Evaluation of the Integrated Canadian Crop Yield Forecaster (ICCYF) model for in-season prediction of crop yield across the Canadian agricultural landscape.

Chipanshi, A.C., Zhang, Y., Kouadio, L., Newlands, N.K., Davidson, A.M., Hill, H.S., Warren, R., Qian, B., Daneshfar, B., Bedard, F., and Reichert, G. (2015). "Evaluation of the Integrated Canadian Crop Yield Forecaster (ICCYF) model for in-season prediction of crop yield across the Canadian agricultural landscape.", Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 206, pp. 137-150. doi : 10.1016/j.agrformet.2015.03.007  Access to full text

Abstract

Early warning information on crop yield and production are very crucial for both farmers and decision-makers. In this study, we assess the skill and the reliability of the Integrated Canadian Crop Yield Forecaster (ICCYF), a regional crop yield forecasting tool, at different temporal (i.e. 1–3 months before harvest) and spatial (i.e. census agricultural region – CAR, provincial and national) scales across Canada. A distinct feature of the ICCYF is that it generates in-season yield forecasts well before the end of the growing season and provides a probability distribution of the forecasted yields. The ICCYF integrates climate, remote sensing derived vegetation indices, soil and crop information through a physical process-based soil water budget model and statistical algorithms. The model was evaluated against yield survey data of spring wheat, barley and canola during the 1987–2012 period. Our results showed that the ICCYF performance exhibited a strong spatial pattern at both CAR and provincial scales. Model performance was better from regions with a good coverage of climate stations and a high percentage of cropped area. On average, the model coefficient of determination at CAR level was 66%, 51% and 67%, for spring wheat, barley and canola, respectively. Skilful forecasts (i.e. model efficiency index > 0) were achieved in 70% of the CARs for spring wheat and canola, and 43% for barley (low values observed in CAR with small harvested area). At the provincial scale, the mean absolute percentage errors (MAPE) of the September forecasts ranged from 7% to 16%, 7% to14%, and 6% to 14% for spring wheat, barley and canola, respectively. For forecasts at the national scale, MAPE values (i.e. 8%, 5% and 9% for the three respective crops) were considerably smaller than the corresponding historical coefficients of variation (i.e. 17%, 10% and 17% for the three crops). Overall, the ICCYF performed better for spring wheat than for canola and barley at all the three spatial scales. Skilful forecasts were achieved by mid-August, giving a lead time of about 1 month before harvest and about 3 - 4 months before the final release of official survey results. As such, the ICCYF could be used as a complementary tool for the traditional survey method, especially in areas where it is not practical to conduct such surveys.

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