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The rocket science of agriculture

The rocket science of agriculture

By Andrew Joseph,

Is agriculture rocket science?

One person who may have the answer to that, actually knows his rocket science—Éric Laliberté, the Director General, Space Utilization for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Speaking at the 2021 virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase held November 16-18, Laliberté, as the event’s first presenter, showed his passion for the aerospace industry while discussing our passion for agriculture—a match made in the heavens.

To answer the poignant question posed atop per Laliberté, the short answer, is yes. Agriculture is rocket science.

Building on last year’s talk—"Space Utilization and Land Utilization”—the 2022 presentation examined some of the satellite programs that observe the Earth and provide scientific data that becomes an essential part of understanding our environment, such as SMAP, which measures from space the moisture in soil every two or three days.

The soon-to-be SWOT—Surface Water & Ocean Topography— satellite altimeter mission will make the first-ever global survey of approximately 90 percent of Earth’s surface water, performing a scan of Earth twice every 21 days, Laliberté explained. It is scheduled to fly at this time next year in 2022.

Itr will provide data for clean air and water, extreme events, and long-term environmental changes—key items that the agriculture sector can use to its advantage.

The SWOT mission is being jointly developed by NASA and CNES, the French space agency, in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.

The use of satellites is key. Laliberté provided a shocking satellite evidence-based prediction for crops, including corn production through to the year 2099 that shows corn yield will be negatively impacted around the world—including Canada by some 26 percent, though wheat yield may actually increase by 17 percent by 2050.  

Laliberté joined the CSA in 2001, holding various positions. In his current role, he is accountable for the overall planning, direction and general management of the Space Utilization Branch of the CSA, whose mandate is the end-to-end implementation of the Earth Observation, Satellite Communications and Space environment elements of the Canadian Space Program.

He holds a MA in Engineering Management from the University of Sherbrooke, and a BA in Mechanical Engineering with an automation specialty from McGill University. He served 12 years as an Aerospace Engineering Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before joining the Canadian Space Agency. He was part of the Air Reserve for 10 years where he assumed the responsibilities of Aircraft Maintenance Flight Commander at 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.

Remember, for all registrants of the 2021 Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase, you will still have access to all of the presentations and exhibitor area until November 29, 2021. This allows you to view presentations or contact exhibitors at a time more convenient to you, even if the event is no longer live.

There is still time to register:

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