Canada 150 Crop Art Explained
Precision agriculture and Agri-Geomatics
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The appearance of Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation logo in a Saskatchewan wheat field wasn't the result of magnetic fields, aliens, or pranksters. It was created by federal public servants using a drone, global positioning software, and agri-geomatics satellite data technology to showcase the high-tech reality of today's farming sector.
The crop art served as the backdrop for a new Canada 150 video celebrating modern agriculture, the environment, reconciliation, diversity, and youth.
To create the crop art image, the Canada 150 logo was uploaded to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software which picked the best field location and helped technicians program exact GPS coordinates into the combine's on-board computer, ensuring the image would be scaled accurately for the 35-foot width of the combine's cutting blades.
With the combine positioned at the correct starting point, the driver took his hands off the wheel and the GPS program took over, navigating itself along 24 precisely programmed lines and angles. Four hours later, the 500-metre-wide image was complete!
For David Lee, the AAFC geomatics researcher who did the programming, the project was a fun way to highlight technology that provides serious benefits to agriculture.
"GPS technology is in all the combines these days. Being hands-free reduces fatigue for the operator and allows them to focus on running the machine efficiently. With this level of precision, farmers are no longer wasting energy and time on overlapping cuts."
- David Lee, Geomatics Division, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
While the video demonstrates the precision at which a large combine can harvest a crop, the geomatics technology behind it can do a lot more. Combined with field and satellite monitoring, farmers can know real time weather, soil, air quality, and crop maturity in their fields at the click of a button. They also know when and where to apply fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Armed with this powerful information, farmers can adapt their planting, watering, fertilizing and harvesting regime to be as precise as the logo cut in the field. The efficiencies gained directly translate into profits for farmers and a healthier environment for Canadians.
AAFC is helping to develop these technologies in collaboration with industry partners in Canada and abroad. Examples include:
- The creation of a Soil Moisture Toolkit that provides near-real time drought and flood information using data from Canada's RADARSAT-2 satellite;
- The AAFC-created and expanded Real-time In-situ Soil Monitoring for Agriculture (RISMA) network which provides soil moisture, soil temperature, meteorological data, and capture conditions for the main agricultural crop types, soil textures, and ecozones in Canada;
- Launching of the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite mission to monitor surface soil moisture; and
- Ongoing collaboration with NASA on the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite which produces the most accurate, highest-resolution global maps of soil moisture, temperature and freeze-thaw cycles ever obtained from space (and also uses data from the RISMA network).
Key discoveries (benefits)
- AAFC used precision agriculture technologies to cut the Canada 150 logo into a field of Durum wheat in Saskatchewan.
- Precision agriculture provides farmers with near-real-time data on field, crop and weather conditions, helping them make informed decisions that are good for their business and help minimize environmental impacts.
- AAFC is committed to investing in the development of new and improved precision agricultural technologies to benefit the sector and Canadians.
- Watch the video - Agri-Geomatics: The big data revolution in agriculture
- Canada 150 video
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Flickr album of the video shoot
- Learn about Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Soil Moisture Toolkit
- Learn more about Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Real-time In-situ Soil Monitoring for Agriculture network
- Learn more about the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite mission
- Learn about Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s collaboration with NASA to improve weather prediction and crop productivity models
- Visit the official Canada 150 website
- Learn more about The Canada 150 logo
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