Farm Weather Stations: How They’re Used & Why They’re Important
What Is a Weather Station?
Home weather stations are highly convenient, showing you the temperature, rainfall, and other aspects of the elements before you head outside your home. Typically, they are two-part devices, with an array of sensors that sit outside, and a display placed indoors. There are several types of home weather stations on the market, with a lot of features to consider, depending on what weather you would like to measure.
How Does Weather Affect Farming?
Excessive Heat and Rain
Everyone knows that crops need water to grow, so it is crucial to be in a climate zone that experiences periodic rain suitable for specific plants. However, everything is good in moderation. The start of the growing season is very dependent upon when it rains and when it does not.
If it rains excessively farmers cannot physically run equipment through a field without getting stuck. If they plant right before a strong storm with plenty of rain, it is possible to drown out the seeds before they can germinate.
This time window is typically long enough for most producers to accomplish all their planting; however, water is not the only limiting factor. If the temperatures are not warm enough, the seeds will not start to absorb the water. When talking about crops such as corn and soybeans, the soil temperature should be at 50°F or above to promote growth.
Once farmers have seeds in the ground, the next hurdle is ensuring the plants receive an adequate amount of water. How much is perfect? It depends on both the species of plants and the varieties being grown. If the growing season is ideal for plant growth, the next step is harvest.
A field may produce a high yield, but if the harvest conditions are sub-par this will lead to a loss in production. If the field is too wet, the equipment can become stuck in the mud. Some crops such as vegetables are harvested at a high moisture content, which contrasts with a crop like soybeans which must be harvested at a low moisture content. Overall, weather conditions are always a major threat to the agriculture industry.
Temperature increases and carbon dioxide can elevate some crop yields depending on the location; but other conditions such as nutrient levels, soil moisture, and water availability must also exist. Although slight warming and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could benefit some plants to grow faster, severe warming, floods, and drought will reduce harvest amounts.
The downside is that many weeds, pests, and fungi flourish when the temperatures are warmer, and the climates are wetter. U.S. farmers spend more than $11 billion per year to fight weeds, which will probably increase with climate change along with pests.
Rising carbon dioxide can accelerate plant growth, but it also diminishes the nutritional value of most food crops by reducing the concentrations of protein and essential minerals in wheat, soybeans, and rice, causing potential harm to human health.
Freezing Weather Conditions
Heat is not the only extreme weather. Extreme cold can benefit farmers by freezing the soil deep underground. In parts of the upper Midwest, frost depths exceed 40 inches. A deep frost depth can aid farmers in diverse ways.
The cold helps nitrogen applied in the fall from vaporizing during the winter. The cycle of freezing and thawing water helps soften the soil after the thaw. Extreme cold and frozen soils also reduce the survival rate of some insects.
Severe weather other than heat and cold can cause loss and destruction to a farm. Most farmers cannot avoid the results of extreme weather no matter where the farm is located. Extreme weather can affect farms in very different ways. Because of this, it is important that farmers have crop insurance, which protects against severe weather.
How Can Cattle Ranchers Benefit From Farm Weather Stations?
Farmers have many options to consider when choosing a weather station for their farm. The options they choose can help create a plan for their crops or cows that will provide the most beneficial conditions for growth and output.
Preventing Heat Stress in Dairy Cows
For example, the ideal temperature range for dairy cattle is between 25- and 65-degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature goes above 80 degrees Fahrenheit cattle reduce feed intake, which has a negative impact on production. At 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, a dramatic decrease in milk production takes place ranging from 3 to 20 percent.
How Does Humidity Affect Heat Stress in Dairy Cows?
Humidity also plays a significant part in heat stress. There are three temperature-humidity ranges of concern. A temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 20 percent humidity is the range in which serious measures are needed to ease the stress on the cattle. Some type of cooling should be started. The danger occurs as the temperature nears 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity. The lethal range for cattle is 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 percent humidity.
Because cattle sweat at only 10 percent of the human rate, they are more susceptible to heat stress. Therefore, dairy cattle need mechanical means to reduce heat, such as body sprinkling to aid in evaporation and effective air movement systems to aid in cooling.
Stale, stagnant air can reach dangerous or lethal areas in a brief time. Therefore, it is essential to have rapid movement of air in any confined area. During times of heat stress feed intake is reduce by 8 to 12 percent or more. All these factors result in decreased production.
Final Thoughts for Using a Weather Station on a Farm
Weather stations are in the field all day, every day to collect and report important crop production data. Weather stations providing invaluable insight and knowledge to farmers lets them see what is happening environmentally out in the fields. Whether measuring temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed or soil moisture, these instruments can assist with the overall success of the farm.
Our weather stations and weather instruments have been used in wind energy, irrigation systems, solar, greenhouses, and much more. If you’re looking for high-quality instruments or have any questions, please contact us today and a team member will be in touch.