Birchip Cropping Group has undertaken a pilot project to install weather stations that will deliver rainfall, temperature, humidity and wind data to farmers’ pockets 24 hours a day.
At BCG’s Future Farmers Expo on July 5, Minyip farmer Paul Petering, BCG chief executive Chris Souness and technical officer Chris Cook discussed some of the benefits and challenges observed since the Davis Vantage Pro2 stations were installed.
Mr Petering said the stations were a useful resource at key times during the season. Having access provided him with a more accurate summation of weather events, compared to the closest Bureau of Meteorology station at Longerenong.
“What is happening at Longerenong is often not the same as what is happening on my farm,” he said.
“It was advantageous to have on-farm information when making the decisions about spraying and harvesting. With more local information, there is less risk of spray drift and the fire safety index allows me to feel safer about harvesting in the right conditions.”
With the station centrally located among paddocks on his farm, Mr Petering can confidently make decisions in a timely manner.
Installing the stations across the BCG member network has been a significant project undertaken by Mr Cook, who has witnessed many of the benefits and challenges faced by farmers.
“People have told me about how much they love sitting at home watching TV and having their phone in their hand looking at the gauge fill up,” he said.
There has also been many reports of benefits for farmers using the technology to more effectively manage their operations.
One farmer who was going to be baling hay the next day was able to check conditions from his bed at 2am, instead of having to go out into the paddock.
However, a few glitches are still being ironed out, most notably the attraction of wildlife to the stations. Birds often come to visit and use parts of the station as a cleaning tool.
But as Mr Sounness pointed out, this was a challenge with any piece of technology used on farm.
“Making sure technology is farm ready is an important step to integrating it into the business and being able to rely on it for decision making,” he said.
Weather station owners are already starting to reap rewards around decision making. It’s expected the addition of soil probes in the next round of stations will provide an extra layer of information.
For more details about the project, visit www.bcg.org.au or phone 5492 2787.