Anyone who grew up on a farm or who’s ever worked or lived on one knows the importance of the weather conditions. It domains conversations year-round. All kinds of things – when to start planting seedlings outside, the three consecutive sunny days you need for haying, the first and last frosts of the season, and how to get to the barn when the snow is waist deep – depending on local weather conditions. Local weather can be highly variable, and your local radio or TV station may be reporting conditions from forty or fifty miles away.
There are many different kinds of weather stations, from basic models to very complex ones. At the minimum, a personal weather station will give you information about temperature, humidity, and rainfall. More complex ones will have soil moisture sensors that can tell you when the fields need to be irrigated or leaf moisture sensors which can tell you the condition of the fruit trees in your orchard. Depending on the location, you may pick one with UV and solar radiation sensors to tell if the crops are getting enough light.
How a Personal Weather Station Can be Useful for Farmers
Farmers know the importance of local weather conditions. They determine the timing of your day-to-day operations. Planting seeds, irrigation, spraying, and harvesting all depend on the weather. Your local weather forecast gives you useful information but is no substitute for information about conditions on your farm.
Having your personal weather station on the farm will give you information that you can use to schedule your regular operations like crop management, aerial spraying, caring for livestock, haying, harvesting, etc.
What’s the Right Kind of Weather Station for Your Farm?
Weather stations are simple or complex. Even basic ones will have some or all of these instruments:
- The anemometer, which is often combined with a wind vane and measures wind speed
- The wind vane to tell you the wind direction.
- The thermometer tells you the air temperature.
- A hygrometer to measure air humidity.
- A barometer to measure air pressure.
- Rain gauges to measure the amount of rainfall. Depending on your location, you may also need a snow gauge
More Complex Systems Can Add These Functions:
- Solar radiation sensors
- Leaf Wetness
- Soil moisture
- Soil temperature
- Water temperature
- Ultraviolet index
In general, even if you start out with a basic system, it’s a good idea to get one too which more functions and gauges can be added as they become necessary.
How to Use Your Weather Station on the Farm
As important as finding the right weather station is using it correctly. Placing it in the right location can help you to make the best use of the data. If you have a large farm, you may need two stations. Rain gauges should be placed in the open and situated on grass surfaces to avoid splashback from hard surfaces that can cause inaccurate readings. Hard surfaces like concrete can likewise interfere with temperature and humidity readings.
The right height for the anemometer is two to three feet off the ground, so you can measure the wind direction at crop level where you will be spraying. Sensors for soil moisture and salinity and crop leaf wetness should be placed at the exact location where measurements are needed. You may use the weather station readings only to determine your daily activities or you can also choose to aggregate your data over time to analyze local weather patterns.
New cloud-based weather monitoring stations send all the weather data from your farm to the cloud via wireless networks. You can use free iOS or Android apps to analyze the data to support your crop management schedule.
Setting up your own personal weather station on the farm can help you keep track of local weather conditions. It affect important decisions like planting, haying, irrigation, spraying, and livestock care. Whether you go for a basic weather station or a more complex one, you should choose one that can be expanded as needed. You can also choose to aggregate the data collected on your farm via the cloud. So that you can analyze it for better crop management and livestock care.