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More farmers tracking weather with their own stations

Agriculture.com Staff 03/26/2008 @ 10:35am

Apparently, there are times when farmers feel that the nearest National Weather Service data just isn't good enough.

A recent Agriculture Online survey showed that 14% of farmers already own an on-farm weather station and that another 25% say they would like to buy one in the next five years. That means you could see this equipment on more than a third of U.S. farms in the years ahead.

Al Schafbuch, a Dysart, Iowa, corn and soybean producer, has owned a weather station for seven years. His wireless unit lets him track soil moisture and soil temperature, helping him pinpoint when to plant corn and apply nitrogen.

For spraying, a wind speed monitor gives him precise local conditions and keeps records on wind speed and direction, in case he needs to account for his practices.

"When you're spraying, if the unit shows five mph, you know exactly what it is. Otherwise, if you have a claim, how do you know what the wind conditions were?" Schafbuch says. "With this technology, you can show the day you did the spraying and what the wind speed and direction was."

Humidity readings help him make decisions about drying corn. The unit has a self-dumping rain gauge and also tracks wind chill, dew point and other conditions.

The ability to download the information from the station to his computer and track historic weather for his farm is another factor in making better decisions, Schafbuch says.

As an early adopter of weather station technology, Schafbuch continues to see value in the equipment. "After you've used it for a long time, you realize that you’ve gained a lot of good information from it," Schafbuch says. "I think it's a good thing to have. I'd recommend one."

Apparently, there are times when farmers feel that the nearest National Weather Service data just isn't good enough.

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