Monitoring weather around the commonwealth

Thirteen new weather stations around the commonwealth will supply researchers with minute-by-minute climatic conditions.

Thirteen new weather stations around the commonwealth will supply researchers with minute-by-minute climatic conditions.

Virginia farmers and researchers will soon have access to climate data that will help them decide when to plant, irrigate, and harvest their crops and apply fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides.

The Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station has contracted with Blacksburg, Va.-based engineering consulting firm MapTech Inc. to update, install, and maintain the weather stations at the 11 Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, Kentland Farm, and the Northern Piedmont Center.

Each station tracks minute-by-minute measurements of air temperature, rainfall amount and intensity, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, barometric pressure, solar radiation, and soil moisture and temperature. The data will be available on the Web.

“We can add sensors to the weather stations that will monitor potential frost or flooding, alerting farmers when extreme temperatures may threaten livestock,” said Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean of research and graduate studies and director of VAES.

Christopher Philips, a Ph.D. student in entomology, plans to use the weather data to predict the egg peak days for the cereal leaf beetle — a pest of oats, barley, and wheat. This information makes the scouting process more efficient and could minimize the use of automatic insecticide applications.

Ultimately, an online library of archived data will help subscribers with their research or farm operations.

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