February 26, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

For a Kentucky farmer interested in knowing the optimal time to spray his or her crop, the information is just a click away.

As technology advances to aid farmers with production, so too does the technology available in weather forecasting to help farmers determine when to perform field activities. Forecasts have gone beyond the “partly cloudy and a chance of rain” and are becoming ever more pinpointed.

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Weather Center provides farmers with information at the county level that includes wind chill, dew point, relative humidity, wind speed and direction and the likelihood of precipitation. It not only tells the likelihood of rain but also when it is likely to begin and end.

Additionally, it rates weather for spraying conditions, tobacco curing and drying conditions from poor to good. It also provides information on livestock cold stress levels from none to moderate to severe.

The 60-hour forecast provides data at three-hour intervals and is updated four times a day. It allows farmers to access timely information to help them with their management decisions.

“It adds a whole knew dimension,” said Tom Priddy, UK agricultural meteorologist. “It’s really cutting edge stuff.”

Other universities provide agricultural weather information, but Priddy said UK is the first to offer it on the county level in such precise detail.

Weather models run by the National Center for Environmental Prediction first establish data for the county level agricultural forecasts. National Weather Service meteorologists then tweak the information for their regions, and UK meteorologists further refine it to establish the precision agriculture forecasts.

The county level precision agriculture forecasts have been available through the UK Weather Center for several months now, and by September the plan is to have the forecasts defined down to a one-kilometer area.

In the coming months, Priddy said he hopes to be able to further refine access to the information.

“The next step is to have a click point in the county product where a farmer can put in what activity they want to do for the day and it will provide them with the most favorable time span to do it,” he said.

Priddy said the information can be useful not just to farmers but to anyone who needs to know weather conditions such as foresters or even emergency management personnel.

“We don’t even know all the potential uses,” he said.

To access the precision agriculture weather forecast in your county, visit the Weather Center atwwwagwx.ca.uky.edu. Click on county forecast (KY County Cast) and your county. Once there, click on the precision agriculture forecast.

UK meteorologists are providing educational workshops to train people on how to use this new weather resource.  Anyone interested in a workshop should contact their county Extension agents.  



Tom Priddy, 859-257-3000, ext. 245