You Cannot Control the Weather, but UF-Developed Tools Help You Cope

Dan Florida, Weather

by Brad Buck
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

weatherFlorida weather is unpredictable. While you cannot control the weather, you can use UF/IFAS-developed weather databases to improve farming, home irrigation and flood control.

Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have written a new Extension document that summarizes several weather data portals and tells how stakeholders can utilize them. UF/IFAS researchers developed some of the databases.

“There is interest in this topic as we try to improve our decision-making tools,” said Kati Migliaccio, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering and co-author of the document “Rainfall is one of the most variable factors used in our tools — thus determining better information or combining information may help us provide better tools.”

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The UF/IFAS-developed sites and apps include the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), the My Florida Farm Weather app, and the AgroClimate app.

FAWN measures and stores weather information from more than 40 stations in Florida. The FAWN website also provides real-time and historical data you can download. My Florida Farm Weather app includes rainfall from FAWN stations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and farmer stations participating in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services cost-share program.

The AgroClimate app uses FAWN data but has additional features and a visually appealing format. It provides summary information for rainfall and other weather. Users can also add a field and associate the field with a weather station, which gives them customized reports during the cropping season.

AgroClimate provides this information to the Southeastern U.S., based on gridded weather data from the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University, under an agreement with the USDA Southeast Climate Hub. Researchers are extending the agreement with the Southeast Climate Hub to expand the information to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, said Clyde Fraisse, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering and a co-author of the Extension document.

Real-time daily rainfall data can be used by urban and agricultural irrigators to determine if and when irrigation is needed, the paper’s authors wrote. Such data may be used to delay irrigation for a specific number of days, based on the amount of rainfall received.

Rainfall data also may be used to estimate flood potential in low-elevation areas or where an aquifer, such as the Floridan aquifer, lies near the ground. The Floridan aquifer serves as the main source of fresh water for most people in northeast and central Florida.

Migliaccio and her colleagues are constantly seeking new ways to improve weather data. Researchers wrote the latest document because of all the other work scientists are doing and to answer questions that often arise regarding different sources of data, Migliaccio said.

Rainfall data is improving as is the technology to deliver it to users. That allows UF/IFAS researchers to develop better decision-making tools, she said.

“The overall impact of this would be to provide better answers to water decision questions,” Migliaccio said.


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