Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Grows Benefits Using Big Data - PulsePoint
August 17, 2018
The Saskatchewan Management Plus program helps growers make vital decisions
By Jane Caulfield
Big data is a hot topic these days - from collection practices to data uses, people are looking for more ways to turn data into something with value. When it comes to pulse crop information, the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) has found a way to use grower
provided data to support producers in multiple ways.
“Saskatchewan Management Plus (SMP) is designed to give producers actual crop production information to help make more informed farm management decisions, and help SCIC maintain, develop, and enhance crop insurance programs,” says Christie Wolf, Research Analyst at SCIC.
Through SMP, SCIC collects information on a wide range of data points including crop and variety, land use, seeding date, chemicals/fertilizers applied, average grade produced, and yields. Because data is submitted directly by producers, the available results are extremely relevant to producers.
“All SMP data is available on our website, where producers can access and compare how varieties perform in their area,” says Wolf. “This data, along with the collective data of producers in each risk zone, can help producers plan crop rotations, budgets, and crop performance comparisons.”
Wolf says that participation has no associated costs and is entirely voluntary. Growers receive an individual summary sheet automatically if they supply crop yields by legal land description on their production declaration, and any individual producer information is kept confidential.
Individual data becomes part of a larger database that provides producers with average results based on risk zone or by province. This means that the more producers who participate, the better the information is.
“Consider the number of field pea varieties on the market today,” says Wolf. “The vast number of choices makes your decision very difficult. With SMP, you will have additional and local information that will help you make your choices. You will be able to choose the variety most suited to your area.”
The data provided becomes part of a larger database that can provide average results based on risk zones or by province, which growers and users can access to see average results in risk zones or by province, but not individual field data.
More Benefits to SMP Than Meets the Eye
Sherrilyn Phelps, Agronomy Manager for Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), says that there is a lot of benefit for producers to participate.
“The data is valuable to the grower as they can track individual field results over time,” says Phelps. “It also goes into a database that can provide information for the risk zone and the province. This combined data can be very powerful but is only as good as the data going into it.”
The information producers receive can be used to plan what varieties to plant and can also help growers determine what crop does better on what stubble so they can make more informed choices in crop rotations.
While the available data helps producers plan future crop rotations, maintaining an on-going database provides opportunity for the development of new technology and creates valuable research opportunities.
“Investments in research and technology development are based on priorities and needs of the industry,” says Phelps. “The SMP program provides data to the industry to identify areas where more work is needed, where opportunities exist, and to confirm the adoption of technology and increased yields over time.”
The SMP program also provides insight to current decisions being made by producers, and can help industry experts respond accordingly, ensuring that pulses continue to be a profitable crop in Saskatchewan. SPG uses the available data to assess trends in yield and variety uptake to ensure they are investing in the development of new varieties that producers will want to use.
“The decision to release a variety is based, in part, on the anticipated agronomic performance,” says Laurie Friesen, Seed Program and Research Project Manager at SPG. “During variety development, this is measured in replicated small plots grown at multiple sites over several years. Although this is a good indicator of the potential of a candidate variety in different regions, it is important to assess how this translates to economic success in field scale production at the grower level.”
A successful pulse crop relies on a number of variables, and while some are only controlled by Mother Nature, SPG uses the data in the SMP program to ensure they are providing services that help make it easier for growers to turn a profit.
“The success, or lack thereof, of varieties serves as a gauge of how current issues may be influencing grower decisions and how SPG should work towards meeting these challenges for the benefit of the producer,” says Friesen. “More participation by growers will increase the accuracy of the data and improve the ability to look at regional information. The more robust the database is, the better it will serve as a guide for future variety commercialization decisions which will directly benefit the grower.”
To learn more about the SMP program, visit saskcropinsurance.com/resources/smp/.