New weather technology research will benefit NEWA users

Weather sensing technology is at the heart of NEWA tools but organizing the vast amount of data coming from a network like ours is a complicated matter.

Specialists in agriculture, engineering, computing and information sciences at Cornell University got together this past winter to talk about technology and farming in New York State. This effort, called the Digital Agriculture Initiative, had many positive outcomes including new collaborations between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering and College of Computer and Information Sciences. A series of innovative grants were also awarded using federal Hatch Grant funds, as a direct outcome of winter discussions.

One of these successful grant proposals will have a direct long-term benefit for NEWA users. Development of a High-Resolution Weather Forecast Database for Digital Agriculture and Outreach Applications will examine more efficient ways of collecting and storing large amounts of data from weather sensor networks. Principal Investigators Dr. Art DeGaetano (Northeast Regional Climate Center Director, CALS) and Dr. Madeleine Udell (College of Engineering) will work together to improve the accuracy of agricultural forecasts.

To learn more about this project and other Digital Agriculture projects in New York State, visit the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station website.

NEWA needs your help – take our online survey!

The Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) is seeking new and experienced users to take an important online survey — it will only take 10 minutes of your time. Use your smart device, tablet or desktop computer!

Take the survey now:

https://cornell.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0GRlhOIDI5HwbR3

All responses are anonymous and confidential. They will not be shared with any outside group.

Whether you’ve used NEWA’s online pest forecast models for years or have never used NEWA at all, we will benefit from your responses. Why? Because we are building a new website at newa.cornell.edu, one that’ll be as easy to use on your smart phone as on your desktop, and we want to build it the way you want it to be.

NEWA is an online agricultural decision support system that uses real time weather data, streamed over the internet from 573 weather stations throughout the Northeast, Midwest and mid-Atlantic. NEWA provides insect and plant disease pest management tools, degree days, and weather information for growers, consultants, Extension educators, faculty, and others.

NEWA models and resources are available free of charge, and are used to make informed localized crop management decisions. The NEWA website will be upgraded soon and we want to know what users’, new and old, want and need out of the new website.

Thank you for participating!

Growing frustration about the weather. What can we do?

2017 has been a very wet year. But you already know that. From May to July, most of upstate New York received at least five inches of rain above normal. But go back to 2016 and the same areas had deficits ranging from one two five inches. That’s a real drag.

Northeast Regional Climate Center. Cornell University

How are you supposed to plan ahead when it seems impossible to predict what will happen? It seems like every growing season is different. What our parents and grandparents knew about weather patterns on the family farm may no longer apply.

‘It’s June and we’re not even in our fields.’

‘I missed the cutoff date for crop insurance.’

The list goes on and on.

The Network for Environment and Weather Applications is a useful resource for fruit and vegetable growers when it comes to understanding how changing weather conditions affect your operation on a daily or weekly basis. For example, online tools such as our apple scab and fire blight models help you understand disease risk and subsequent action steps on a daily basis to protect your apples.

But what about the bigger picture? As growers, how do we even begin to predict management needs in the upcoming season when historical patterns and family knowledge may no longer be as useful?  Precipitation, drought, extreme weather, extended growing season and so on are all hitting us at once. Our climate is changing.

Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions has taken steps to explore this ‘big picture’ dilemma by collaborating with Cornell professors Dr. Art DeGaetano and Dr. Toby Ault, as well as regional Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists throughout New York State who form the Climate Smart Farming (CSF) Extension Team.

Climate Smart Farming Team Members

Laura McDermott Regional Extension Specialist Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program
Dr. Kitty O’Neil Northern NY Regional Agronomist North Country Regional Ag Team
Dr. Kimberly Morrill Regional Dairy Specialist North Country Regional Ag Team
Dr. Darcy Telenko Extension Vegetable Specialist Cornell Vegetable Program

Online climate smart decision tools have also been developed to complement the work of CSF Extension Team members.  Visit the Cornell Climate Smart Farming website to explore these resources related to agriculture and climate. Where NEWA looks at short-term risks posed by insects and diseases to a crop, the CSF program takes a broader view, providing historical context to current conditions and seasonal trends. By doing so, growers can move in a direction of understanding ways in which fluctuating climate conditions could influence farming operations.

Dr. Chatrchryan provides a great overview of the CSF program in this video. Her talk, Cornell’s Climate Smart Farming Program: Research, Tools, and Extension Support for Farmers in New York and the Northeast, was presented at the 2016 New York State IPM Conference Climate, Weather, Data: Protecting Our Crops and Landscapes. You can also download a PDF of Dr. Chatrchyan’s presentation.

Special thanks to Dr. A. Chatrchyan, L. McDermott, Dr. Kitty O’Neill, Dr. K. Morrill, Dr. D. Telenko, Dr. A. DeGaetano (NRCC) Dr. Toby Ault (EAS) and Dr. M. Hoffmann (CICCS)

Dan Olmstead is Coordinator of the New York State IPM program’s Network for Environment and Weather Applications. You can follow him on Twitter (@dolmstead) and Instagram (@dan_olmstead).