POWELL, Wyo. - All agriculture producers, including those in Northern Wyoming, can always use a little help from friends, especially when it comes to weather and soil. They're typically the most important factors affecting the sugarbeet farmer or sheep producer. And the more reliable and detailed the climate and dirt data, the better.
With a winter breather away from the crops, growers may find time to get on a computer and become familiar with the Wyoming Agriculture Weather Network (www.WAWN.net). WAWN uses data collected from automated weather stations located in Powell, Heart Mountain (near Cody), Sheridan, and Worlund. Key weather information, specific for those regions, is available for area producers, in addition for research used at the ag extension centers in Powell and Sheridan.
The information from the four weather stations is available and easily read on the website that is maintained by the Powell Research and Extension Center.
The weather stations were installed in 2010. Funding for the Powell, Heart Mountain and Sheridan weather stations was done by the University of Wyoming. The Washakie Country Conservation District, with support from the Wyoming Sugar Company LLC, supported the Worlund station. Both staff from the University of Wyoming at Powell Research & Extension Center and a technician, who specialized in Automated Weather Station Networks system, did the installations. There are plans to possibly erect a fifth weather station.
The weather station was first introduced to Northern Wyoming producers during the field day event last summer in Powell.
According to Assistant Professor and Irrigation Specialist Axel Garcia y Garcia, producers should always consider weather patterns when making decisions such as irrigation, pest and disease control, and land use and management.
Garcia, based at the Powell Research and Extension Center, notes the systems include a data logger, weather monitoring sensors, a battery and solar panel, tripod and communication devices. These components help measure solar radiation, air temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, soil moisture and temperature.
The variables are recorded every 15 and 60 minutes, and 24 hours.
“Our stations are located in areas where agriculture happens,” said Garcia. “This provides a better representation of the environmental conditions of ag areas than information obtained, for example, at an airport. Also, the closer the producer is to our weather station, the better the information will serve him.
“Of course there are other ways to get weather information in our region. You have to dig in the world wide web and you'll find some options, sometimes free, sometimes you may need to pay for it. We're trying to build something that will provide specific information to our producers, something that, hopefully, will be tailored to their needs.”
“There are several ways the current information provided can be used,” said Garcia. “One could see at the soil temperature to help making a decision on whether to plant a certain crop or not. Someone else may want to see at the variation on air temperature and wind speed and direction to determine the best moment to apply an specific pesticide. You may just have a look at the wind chill or heat index information to make a decision on how to handle outdoors physical activities.”
The four stations are located in some of the the heaviest ag spots in Northern Wyoming.
On-line viewers will see tables summarizing conditions during the last seven days, as well as graphs of conditions during the last month.
Garcia says currently the Powell Center is not tracking visits to the website but plan to do so in the future.
So growers, perhaps with some extra indoor time, may wish to check out a nice new resource made available by the University of Wyoming College and Agriculture and Natural Resources folks.
A daily visit with the coffee before heading out?