Every day, the National Weather Service reports a rainfall value for each square in a grid covering the United States. The squares are each 12-miles-by-14-miles square – about 164 square miles.

“That’s how we determine drought and moisture stress on crops,” in 2011. “The problem is it wasn’t as (specific) as we’d like. In a 164-square-mile area rainfall can vary quite a bit.”

For 2012, “we’ll move to a better, more high-resolution dataset that reports rainfall for squares of 2.5-miles-by-2.5-miles. While still not at the individual farm level, it’s 25 times greater in resolution.”

And Climate Corp wants to refine the resolution even more. “Hopefully, eventually there will be the ability to outline farms and get a rainfall report” for each farm.

Another change for 2012 will be accounting for soil types. In 2011, “we just looked at rainfall in each area and didn’t account … for lighter and heavier soils. 

“Now, we have access to a database of every 30-foot-by-30-foot square of land in the country: the soil depth, the moisture-holding capacity, the soil type. This (consists) of 150 billion data points around the United States.”

The company can now precisely identify differences from farm to farm. Therefore, “we can appropriately pay for drought risks. If an area has a week with no rain, we’re able to recognize that crops on lighter soil may be drought-stressed because it can’t hold water as well. (Meanwhile), the farm across the street has heavier soils and isn’t drought-stressed because it’s still holding rain from a week ago.”