GRAIN growers have improved access to climate information with 40 new automatic weather stations now installed and delivering vital data online.
The expansion has been undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and Food, supported by Royalty for Regions funding, to bring the network to more than 90 weather stations operating throughout the Wheatbelt and south west region.
In the Eastern Wheatbelt, the new weather stations are located at Beacon, Burracoppin, Corrigin, Hyden, Kellerberrin, Kondinin, Koorda, Mukinbudin, Narembeen, Trayning and Westonia.
Department Grains Industry executive director Peter Metcalfe said the initiative would deliver valuable local data, enabling growers to make more informed decisions to manage their crops and pastures.
The data will also improve the department’s long-range seasonal forecasting system.
“The stations play an important role in improving the accuracy and integrity of data in the department’s Statistical Seasonal Forecasting system and assist in predicting trends for the remainder of the season,” Mr Metcalfe said.
“Data will also link into tools such as the crop yield estimator Yield Prophet to provide more robust risk management tools for growers.
“The department is investing in areas to ensure the industry is better equipped to manage risks.”
Stations provide near real-time data to the department’s website every 10 minutes with air temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction.
Most stations also measure incoming solar radiation to calculate evaporation.
Department research officer Ian Foster said the weather information had national reach, with data feeding into the Bureau of Meteorology weather services and website as part of a national climate data sharing arrangement.
The weather stations were manufactured by South Australian based company MEA.
MEA founder and engineering director Andrew Skinner said governments, industry bodies and growers recognised that modern farming requires technology and gut feel and instinct were no longer enough on their own to make smart on-farm decisions.
“Environmental monitoring technology is increasingly becoming an essential tool and as valuable as the tractor or harvester,” Mr Skinner said.
“Growers are likely to log on daily, if not two or three times a day, to get localised data.
“Farming like all other industries is operating in the digital age and we’re likely to see even more web-based technology used by small and large farms alike.”