OMAHA (DTN) -- The next generation of on-farm weather information -- including field-level observations, forecast information and analysis -- is set for introduction by DTN at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., Aug. 27-29. The DTN Weather Station will allow producers to have a full accounting of weather happenings in specific fields, as opposed to relying on observations or forecasts from a station many miles away.
"We have had many requests for more site-specific on-farm weather capability," said Todd Meyer, DTN weather business development manager. "We're pleased to offer this state-of-the-art instrument and service."
The weather station, built by Davis Instruments of Menlo Park, Calif., has the capability to observe temperature, dew point, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind gust, and precipitation as part of the standard DTN Weather Station service. An additional set of information will track and analyze soil moisture, soil temperature, leaf wetness, leaf temperature, and evapotranspiration (moisture lost through plant leaves).
The DTN Weather Station information will also be integrated with DTN's proprietary forecast weather model for a true site-specific forecast. "Our forecast model has a six-year run of being the most accurate for precipitation and temperature forecasts in competition with other services, including the National Weather Service," Meyer said. In addition to standard forecast information, the producer's station can be set up to send alert messages to a cell phone for critical weather events either forecast or observed in the field.
An archiving function is another notable feature of the Davis Instruments unit, allowing it to keep track of weather features on a particular day or time. "With the many restrictions and environmental rules on chemical use, this feature is very useful if there's ever a question pertaining to spray drift," Meyer said.
Each unit is solar powered, so no special wiring is needed for the station. Communication from the weather station to a monitor in the producer's home or office is through either an antenna or through a cell phone option. "The antenna will work in a range of 400 to 1,500 feet, depending on obstacles such as walls in the way of the signal," Meyer said. "The cell phone option works through T-Mobile, which covers about 80% of the major U.S. crop area."
Installation and service of the DTN Weather Station is covered in the subscription. "We're making this as hands-free as we can, and we want this to work immediately -- so we will have these professionally installed and maintained," Meyer said.
Meyer is excited about the opportunity to offer an information product which can have immediate bottom-line application. "Just in irrigation cost alone, there can be a great savings, sometimes on the order of thousands of dollars in a given season," Meyer said.
The weather stations are $350 per base unit and $600 for stations with additional sensors for soil moisture, evapotranspiration and other higher-level monitoring. That compares with lesser-functioning stations that cost $4,000 or more. Units require a monthly fee, and users will need a DTN online Pro-level account. For information and full pricing, contact DTN Sales at 800-511-0095.
Bryce Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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