New App gives farmers real time weather data

September 9, 2013 

Staff Report

Tallahassee -- Agricultural producers across Florida will be able to use their smartphones or computers to get real-time local weather data starting this week through the "My Florida Farm Weather" program.

The program, developed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in partnership with University of Florida's Automated Weather Network (FAWN), provides up-to-the-minute information on key weather variables, including rainfall, temperature, humidity, dew point, wind speed and wind direction.

The information is available online, where a map of the state of Florida aggregates data collected from weather stations on private agricultural lands throughout Florida. Visit fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/mffw/ and check the box next to "Grower" to view the data. The information is also available on Android smartphone platforms. An iPhone platform will be available in coming months. In addition, more enhancements, including historical data, will be added to the site.

Over the past year, the department has partnered with agricultural producers to install the weather stations and input data into a test site. So far, 79 operations are participating in the pilot program, with more applications pending. Producers enrolled in Florida's agricultural Best Management Practices are eligible to participate.

Using the weather stations helps producers:

• Determine when to delay irrigation after rainfall and when to irrigate during frost/freeze events, which can reduce water use and costs.

• Determine when to use fungicide or pesticide sprays or fertilizer applications, which can reduce waste and costs.

• Optimize water use and minimize runoff of fertilizers and other farm chemicals into water.

Producers are eligible to receive funding for one weather station for each 300 acres. The department provides 75 percent of the cost of each device up to $5,000, with a total cap of $25,000 per producer.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

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