In front of the pack: VanderSat’s early prediction of Ukraine crop drought losses.

December 8, 2020


arly July 2020 VanderSat satellite data over the central part of the Ukraine started turning red, indicating “low soil moisture levels” and “increased drought risk”. But something was off. Different agencies continued to predict record crop production and farmers checking their corn and sunflower fields did not see much problems on their fields.

Marcel Andriesse, Agriculture Underwriter at Swiss Re explains: “As we put much emphasis on the integrity of our insurance products, we started to be really worried when the soil moisture signal deviated so much from other data sources”

Only much later in mid-August it became clear that the VanderSat data had been telling the truth all along, when other data sources started to tell the same story. NDVI and other yield predictors were going down and the first claim reports from farmers started coming in. Drought was having a serious impact on the 2020 crop yields, which was later confirmed by the official harvest statistics.

VanderSat data and analytics form the basis of Swiss Re’s Drought Index insurance products. As a third-party data supplier to Swiss Re and its partners, VanderSat delivers an objective and high-resolution view on the drought situation for any agricultural region on earth. But being objective also means that we constantly challenge our own assumptions, so when we saw the onset of the drought, alternative satellite and data sources on the ground were used to double check  the correctness of the VanderSat satellite measurements.

Berend de Jong CCO of VanderSat adds: “The above example demonstrates the scientific expertise of our company and the advantages of using VanderSat near real time soil moisture data services in an operational, commercial set-up”


The end of this crop season also marks the start for a new phase in Swiss Re’s and VanderSat’s partnership. Both parties have agreed to renew their cooperation contract for another three years. In 2021 Swiss Re and VanderSat will be providing operational Soil Moisture index insurance services in over seventeen countries on all continents, collaborating with other partners to make drought insurable and reducing the impact of climate change on farmers and society.

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Berend de Jong MSc
Director of Insurance &

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