Farm Weather Stations in Precision Agriculture
Generally, information about weather changes occurring in your area comes from a centralized source, with meteorologists interpreting data over a large geographic area. If you get your weather information from a weather or news service, the data is likely to come from the automatic weather station at the nearest airport. The actual weather on the ground varies greatly, even within a few kilometers. Of course, even a few degrees of temperature difference or a few millimeters of rain can have a huge impact on your farm. This is where farm weather stations come in handy.
For example, temperature measurements are often used to determine Growing Degree Days (GDD). This measurement can be used to predict growth stages based on when you planted and the weather since planting. Cooler temperatures mean fewer GDD. Using more accurate temperature information from your fields as opposed to temperatures taken miles away can make big differences in calculating growth stages using GDD.
Many farmers have been using weather stations for years, using analog instruments such as rain gauges, barometers and thermometers and data collection. Today’s weather sensors and stations are mostly digital and can instantly feed information to your computer or mobile device. While not an exhaustive list, we outline some of the main components and features you can look for when choosing a personal weather station.
Components of Weather Stations:
Anemometer – Measures wind direction and speed.
Thermometer – Measures atmospheric temperature.
Hygrometer – Measures relative humidity using a percentage measure of water vapour in the air.
Barometer – Measures atmospheric pressure to predict precipitation.
Rain Gauge – Measures liquid precipitation using an open container. They usually empty automatically and measure the amount of rainfall over a given time interval.
Pyranometer – Measures solar radiation levels from the sun in watts per square meter (used to calculate ‘evapotranspiration’, the rate at which water evaporates from the soil).
UV Sensor – Measures UV rays from the sun. These sensors are used for precision growing in particular crops like cannabis, where overexposure to UV-rays can stunt leaf growth or affect potency.
Leaf Wetness Sensor – Measures surface moisture of the plants on a scale of 0-15 (dry to saturated). Data from these sensors are used in fungal disease control.
Soil Moisture Sensor – Measures water levels in the soil
Soil Temperature Sensor – Monitors the soil temperature to detect freezing, or high temperatures that can put crops at risk. Also used to calculate rate of evapotranspiration.