Farmers have a new set of free tools to help them make crop decisions.
University of Missouri Extension agricultural economist Ray Massey and Pat Guinan, climatologist for MU Extension Commercial Agriculture, are collaborating with participants across the nation to make information easily available. Massey and Guinan recently presented at MU’s Crop Management Conference in Columbia.
Massey said the websites are important because access to historical climate data helps farm operations that depend on favorable temperatures and precipitation patterns. Guinan said that in October, the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) began offering online data free of charge. Previously, much of the climate center’s data archive was available only by subscription.
The MRCC is a cooperative program of the Illinois State Water Survey and the National Climatic Data Center. Information is available at mrcc.isws.illinois.edu/CLIMATE. MRCC’s Application Tools Environment, or “cli-MATE,” offers data with easy-to-read visuals for free. Customizable charts include growing season statistics, frost/freeze probabilities and information on degree days.
The Vegetation Impact Program, or VIP (online at mrcc.isws.illinois.edu/VIP), monitors and assesses real-time information from MRCC on the same website. MU collaborates with other universities and agencies across the United States on this site. Data from VIP helps producers with frost and freeze guidance, stress degree days and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index. Information on chilling hours is being developed.
MU Extension also offers Horizon Point at agebb.missouri.edu/horizonpoint. There are rainfall runoff estimators, weed scouting aids, insect scouting aids, fall nitrogen application charts and planting-depth soil temperature, among the many offerings. Users can subscribe to receive advisories by email.
Missouri’s Mesonet presents information from weather stations in 30 locations, 20 of which are real-time. A new station in Lawrence County is set to go live in 2014. The Mesonet site is agebb.missouri.edu/weather/stations.
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) includes information from several hundred precipitation observers in Missouri counties at www.cocorahs.org. Users may also sign up to be a CoCoRaHS weather observer.
MU is one of 12 partners in the new five-year “Useful to Usable” (U2U) project to provide decision tools on climate, growing degree days, split nitrogen application and crop water use in the nation’s Corn Belt. U2U is at drinet.hubzero.org/groups/u2u.
U2U has two online decision-support tools: AgClimate View provides a historical view of climate and yield across the Corn Belt. Growing Degree Day allows producers to enter planting date and hybrid to obtain estimates of when critical events such as silking, black layer and freeze might occur.
Yield data for corn and soybean can be plotted and compared over a five-year period on the U2U site. The interactive site also lets users compare nitrogen application using variable prices and percentages.
The Missouri Climate Center, through MU’s Department of Soil, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences, offers numerous weather and climate-related articles and resources at climate.missouri.edu.
Climate Basic is a new free data system offering weather, soil and crop data at a field level. You can sign up for this service at www.climate.com and enter University of Missouri in the “agent” field.
Guinan said there are many freely available climate resources on the Web, ranging from global to local. Some examples:
•National Climatic Data Center, www.ncdc.noaa.gov.
•NOAA Climate Portal, www.climate.gov.
•Regional Climate Centers, www.ncdc.noaa.gov/customer-support/partnerships/regional-climate-centers.
•State Climate Offices, www.stateclimate.org.
•National Weather Service, www.weather.gov.
•Climate Prediction Center, www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.
For more information, call Massey at 573-884-7788 or Guinan at 573-882-5908.