Grower 411

 

FAWN Tools to Help Florida Orchardists Make Decisions that Save Resources

The Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), a program of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) uses data from its network of 42 stations for a variety of weather-related tools that can aid Florida growers in making irrigation and cold protection decisions.  Growers rely on FAWN weather data to monitor current conditions, and FAWN tools for making decisions related to irrigation, freeze protection, and chemical application.  FAWN has been proven very useful in helping growers save both water and dollars.  For example, UF/IFAS estimates that the use of FAWN tools on cold nights can potentially generate savings of millions of dollars and billions of gallons of water statewide.  

Each station page, accessible by clicking the displayed temperature at a station on the Homepage, provides station-specific products.  For example, the National Weather Service (NWS) graphic offers forecasts of several variables, including air and wet bulb temperatures, relative humidity, and rainfall, as well as station location information, including photos and a map, and current RADAR images.  With one click, users can view FAWN’s suite of cold protection tools, which provide guidance for using water for cold protection.

Some additional decision making tools include daily ET (EvapoTranspiration) calculations, the Air Temperature Threshold Tool, which allows users to retrieve the number of hours a FAWN station measured temperatures above or below a user-specified value, and a pesticide application forecast tool, which can be used to determine optimal conditions during which to apply chemicals.  Archived data from each FAWN station can be viewed and downloaded as well.

For seasonal planning and climate related information, FAWN provides web links to several UF/IFAS AgroClimate resources, including climate outlooks and forecasts, chill accumulation and monitoring, and monthly climate summaries.

In 2011, FAWN began a collaborative project with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy titled My Florida Farm Weather (MFFW).  This high-resolution farm-based weather station network provides growers with site-specific weather data that can be used to optimize water use for irrigation and cold protection.  Each weather station measures air and dew point temperatures, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, and rainfall amount.  Data is collected every 15 minutes and displayed on a webpage.  FAWN also developed an app, for the iPhone and Android platforms, that allows users to view data and decision-making tools on a smartphone.  App features include data graphs, map customizations, cold protection tools, and notifications.  Currently, there are about approximately 180 weather stations deployed in this program.  

Users can stay up to date on station issues, upcoming events, and a daily weather almanac via the FAWN Twitter feed (@UF_FAWN).   The FAWN website can be found at fawn.ifas.ufl.edu.

CREDIT

by WILLIAM R. LUSHER, UF/IFAS Extension, director, FAWN Project