In recent years, steps have been taken to implement a new crop insurance program for rangeland and pasture. Unlike traditionally insured row and cereal crops, which have directly measurable yields, there is no such simple, ideal yield standard for rangeland and pasture because of uncertainties regarding how to generally and objectively quantify annual production. With remotely sensed imagery acquired by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer transformed to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), we derived a proxy relative yield measurement for rangeland and pasture vegetation. This proxy measurement could potentially solve a critical component of the yield quantification problem facing implementation of a rangeland insurance program. In order to evaluate this proxy measurement and how ranchers might accept it, we surveyed a group of Kansas and Oklahoma ranchers to determine how their perception of rangeland productivity compared to NDVI-based proxy measurements of rangeland productivity in the surveyed rancher's county for the growing seasons of 1999–2003. At the scale of the ranch, correlation analysis showed that perception was not highly correlated with the satellite indices. Higher correlations were observed when perception data were aggregated and compared to rangeland indices at the county and study area levels, with performance comparable to using precipitation information. The year with the strongest correlation was the worst drought year of the 5, a desirable outcome in the context of an insurance program. Results from this case study provide some support for using remote sensing data in a national rangeland and pasture insurance program. Such a program would be an important new risk mitigation tool for ranchers.
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Vol. 60 • No. 4