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Fonterra introducing trial hi-tech local weather stations for dairy farmers

By Jim Cornall+

15-May-2017

More accurately predicting the weather has benefits for farmers, so Fonterra is trialing a new weather station that connects to computers and smart devices.
More accurately predicting the weather has benefits for farmers, so Fonterra is trialing a new weather station that connects to computers and smart devices.

Fonterra farmers in New Zealand will test new weather technology that the dairy cooperative hopes will bring greater precision.

Fonterra is working with MetService and BloomSky – a smart weather camera station that delivers hyperlocal weather information in real-time to laptops, tablets or smartphones.

More than 70 BloomSky weather stations will be installed by farmers across the country in the coming months.

Data for decisions

MetService will use observations from the devices to provide forecasting and greater seasonal insights through data analytics to all users of Agrigate – the online dashboard developed by Fonterra Farm Source and LIC to give farmers more data for decision-making purposes.

Fonterra farmer Kevin Argyle is trialing the solar-powered ‘SKY2’ device as well as the wireless add-on, ‘Storm’, and has seen first-hand how the BloomSky system measures temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction, UV and barometric pressure to give him a detailed view of his farm’s climate.

 

A BloomSky weather station on display at the Farming2020 event in South Waikato, New Zealand.

Argyle said people often underestimate the variability within relatively small geographical areas, pointing to a recent rainfall that saw his farm hit with 29 millimeters of rain while a few kilometers away, a farm received just five.

“Weather is one of the more significant risks that impacts a farming operation so to have a real-time app that provides insights in terms of what has happened, what the current weather is and what it’s forecast to be for your property has huge potential value,” he said.

Combining with other devices

BloomSky, an Internet of Things (IoT) start-up that became the most-funded weather project on crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter in 2014, said it wants to make microclimate data more accessible to everyone.

BloomSky said its technology can combine with smart devices to control thermostats or irrigation systems based on the weather outside.

Tim Cutfield, Fonterra head of Agrigate said the weather stations will be popular because of the positive feedback already received from those trialing the system.

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