During the development of the Peace Region Adaptation Strategies, participants identified the lack of accessible and agriculturally relevant weather data for the Peace region as a significant baseline data gap. Increasing producer access to weather data to support real-time, seasonal, and long-term decision-making and planning emerged as a high priority. Improved baseline weather data is also needed to inform other actions identified through the Adaptation Strategies such as strengthening monitoring for pests and diseases. As a first step, a comprehensive assessment of current weather monitoring and data availability, as well as options for improvement, was completed in the spring of 2014 (Increasing Availability of Agriculturally Relevant Weather Data). The assessment has 4 key findings:

  1. Monitoring gaps - Many of the region's agricultural operations are located too far from existing weather stations for the information to be applicable. To increase producer access to accurate weather data, additional strategically located stations are needed. The most notable gaps in weather monitoring are in the north-east part of the region from Clayhurst to Prespatou. There are also gaps south and south-west of Dawson Creek and north of Highway 29, west of Highway 97. It is estimated that between 10 and 20 strategically placed stations would considerably improve the coverage for the Peace region's agricultural areas.
  2. Improved access to data and decision support tools - In addition to an increased number of suitably located weather monitoring stations, a single broadly accessible source for the collected weather data is another priority identified by producers. The ability to link raw weather data to production decision support tools is also important.
  3. Maintaining data quality and availability - A commitment to ongoing maintenance of weather monitoring equipment is critical to ensuring that data quality is retained over time. Both the ownership and locations of monitoring stations will play a role in how effectively stations can be maintained, as will ensuring that there is funding and/or human resources committed for maintaining the network. The assessment encourages a partnership-based approach that would facilitate maintaining the network as a shared responsibility (across multiple beneficiaries).
  4. Decision support tools - Linking local weather data into relevant production decision support tools (DST's) could add considerable value to monitoring activities. DST's have the potential to translate raw weather data into more practical production-related terms. The assessment identifies a number of DST's that could be useful for Peace producers. The assessment notes that there is particular interest in DSTs that address crop pest and disease issues.

The project is intended to support the long-term availability of improved weather data for the agricultural producers in the Peace. This will be accomplished within three major components:

  1. Expanding and maintaining the weather monitoring network through a collaborative approach
  2. Develop and deliver decision support tools for producers and
  3. Increasing producer awareness of weather data and decision support tools.

Peace Agricultural Adaptation Working Group

The working group was formed to support and oversee the implementation of the Peace Region Adaptation Strategies. The working group includes representation from a number of Peace region agricultural organizations including the BC Grain Producers Association, the Peace River Regional Cattlemen's Association, the Peace River Forage Association, the Peace Region Forage Seed Association, and the BC branch of the Canadian Seed Grower's Association. The working group also includes the Peace River Regional District and the BC Ministry of Agriculture. The working group advises the project management team and provides input on the projects as they develop. Working group members help to ensure that projects are in keeping with the Adaptation Strategies and meet the needs of the stakeholders they represent.

BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative

Since 2008, the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative has been guided by an advisory committee of agricultural producers, food processors and representatives from various government agencies. The Initiative develops tools and resources to enhance agriculture's ability to adapt to climate change.

In the spring of 2012, the Initiative completed a climate change risk and opportunity assessment for the BC agriculture sector (Adaptation Risk & Opportunity Assessment report series). Based on the findings of the Assessment, a series of in-depth regional plans are now being developed across BC. This project - Peace Agriculture Weather Monitoring and Decision Support Tools - is an immediate action identified in the Peace Adaptation Strategies.

The BC Agriculture Climate Change Adaptation Risk & Opportunity Assessment reports, and the Regional Adaptation Strategies are available at: www.bcagclimateaction.ca.

Government

Consistent with the Growing Forward agreement with the government of Canada, and the BC Jobs Plan Agri-foods Strategy, the BC Ministry of Agriculture has the objectives of improved adaptive capacity and/or sustainability of the sector, of regions and of commodity groups, along with enhanced economic growth, employment, productivity and competitiveness. The Government of British Columbia's climate change adaptation strategy can be accessed at the following link:

http://www.livesmartbc.ca/attachments/Adaptation_Strategy.pdf

The strategy has three elements:

  1. Build a strong foundation of knowledge (including planning tools and engaging climate science)
  2. Make adaptation part of Government's policies, legislation, regulations and decision-making.
  3. Assess risks and implement priority adaptation actions in sectors sensitive to climate change (including agriculture)

Weather INnovations Consulting

The project activities and coordination are being carried out by Weather Innovations Consulting (WIN). WIN operates environmental monitoring and modelling projects in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine and does modelling/data management work in Uruguay and 14 countries in the European Union. WIN's head office is located in Chatham, Ontario. Since its inception, WIN has specialized in environmental monitoring and delivering weather-related services. WIN has a large client base that consists of businesses, government departments, and agricultural producers.