Weather Sensing – What’s Available and What’s On the Horizon
Updated: May 13
A farm-level weather station might be the next right investment for your farm. For most, the investment is low and the potential gain is high, says Eric Snodgrass, Principal Atmospheric Scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions.
Weather forecasts are a valuable tool for farmers and have been for decades. What farmer isn’t watching the ten-day forecast to determine planting and harvest days, nutrient application timelines, and if that much-needed rain will arrive during pollination? But a remote weather station on your farm can give you live data from which to determine real-time and historical information to better guide your decisions.
According to Snodgrass, the nearest National Weather Service weather station can be several miles from your farm and thus may not represent the actual weather – rainfall, hail, wind, etc – as it occurred in the field. A weather station in the field offers verifiable, field-level weather data.
“Radar and satellite are critical for our observation of weather systems and the warning systems we have created to save lives and property. We use the data they collect as input into our weather forecasting models, and the reliability and accuracy of the data collection partly determines how accurate the forecast will be,” said Snodgrass.
“But radar and satellite will never be more accurate at telling you the rain in a specific area than having a rain gauge.”
Among the information you can gather from a local weather station at the farm is wind conditions, soil temperatures and soil moisture values, accurate measures of precipitation and evaporation, frosts, extreme heat, and growing degree days.
Certainly, your own weather station is valuable. But what’s the bottom line? Snodgrass says most really good weather stations are near $1,000 for a one-time expense. That’s a great value when you consider the data available to the farmer for planning and decision making.
As for Snodgrass, his area of expertise is weather analysis and forecasting for Nutrien Ag Solutions. Right now, he’s providing daily weather reports and videos that analyze the weather patterns across the world to keep farmers informed on how weather could impact their farms or move market prices.
Available soon to farmers will be a new tool from Nutrien that will use 40-year history of field-level weather events to guide farmers in their decision making. The new weather system will be easy to use in a single app you can download right to your phone or tablet.
Until then, you can take a look at all the forecast maps and analysis from Nutrien right here. And if you’re looking to get better weather data, specific to your own fields and farms, don’t delay adding a remote weather station. It’s a small investment with a big impact.