by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
It may not be a crystal ball, but weather apps developed by Cornell may help farmers better cope with fluctuations in weather.
Juliet Carroll, coordinator of the Fruit IPM program at Cornell University, presented “NEWA and CICSS Tools for Farmers” in an interactive demonstration at the recent Empire State Producers Expo. Aided by Jonathan Lambert, program assistant with Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions at Cornell University, Carroll led attendees in walking through the tools on their tablets, phones or laptops using the site’s WIFI connection.
NEWA (Network for Environment and Weather Applications) is a crowd-sourced, open-access weather and pest-reporting network begun by Cornell in 1995. The Northeast Regional Climate Center and New York State Integrated Pest Management program run NEWA, which involves more than 300 volunteers nationwide. Cornell operates and finances the program and by partnering with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, NEWA provides weather and pest information from more than 300 locations nationwide.
NEWA gathers information on rain, temperature, humidity, leaf wetness, solar radiation and wind, all tabulated in reverse date order by the hour. Forty different apps use NEWA data so that farmers can choose the tools they need to make fact-based decisions that can save them a lot of money.
Cornell’s NEWA website states, “users reported that they can save, on average, $19,500 per year in spray costs and prevent, on average, $264,000 per year in crop loss as a direct result of using NEWA pest forecast models.”
The tools include 16 plant disease tools, 11 insect phenology tools, five-day forecasts and data on archived and current weather and pest conditions.
“Many tools start with a map,” Carroll said. “It shows all stations in surrounding states, and grays them out when you select your state.”
She added that in addition to location, NEWA allows users to create custom reports by date, temperature, rainfall, seasonal accumulation and more.
“You can see year-to-date and previous year accumulation of rainfall,” Lambert said.
To participate as a weather station in the program, farmers must buy $1,890 in equipment, plus shipping. The price includes a 2-year warranty, software, cables, solar panel, Ethernet interface (requires high speed internet), non-volatile RAM (prevents data loss during power outage), and eight integrated sensors.
Access to NEWA data is free.
In addition to NEWA, Cornell offers free Climate Smart Farming Decision Tools at www.climatesmartfarming.org . The tech tools include a Water Deficit Calculator, Freeze Risk tools, Growing Degree Day, US Drought Monitor, NOAA Seasonal Outlook/Precipitation, Adapt-N Nitrogen and other apps.
The website’s forum allows growers to share information to help each other with farming issues categorized by Vegetables and Small Fruit, Dairy and Livestock, Specialty Crops, Field Crops, and General Ag Production.