Foto-Credit: ferkelraggae von Fotolia.com
Weather monitoring for enhanced agricultural performance is nothing new. However, technology has advanced such that farmers are looking at the highest level of technology to closely monitor the weather in order to enhance yields and increase profit margin
Joe Lord – farmer and developer
One example in the USA involves a local cranberry farmer in Wisconsin who designed and built a series of weather stations with wireless radio transmitters for use in the cranberry fields. His idea caught on and now many other local cranberry farmers are using his station design in their fields. Joe Lord of Lord Electric Control was kind enough to share information about his systems design and how he has integrated the WS600-UMB weather station.
Cultivation of cranberries and the role of measurement technology
The system design uses Luffts´ WS600-UMB all-in-one sensor to monitor rainfall quantity and intensity, wind speed and direction, dewpoint and, of course, temperature. Daily, monthly and annual rainfall totals are stored in a control system or PLC (program logistics controller). This data is used along with moisture sensors in the cranberry beds to activate the irrigation system to irrigate. Cranberry growers maintain and regulate water flow of large reservoirs.
The precipitation intensity measurement of the WS600 sensor is very helpful in determining how much water a grower should release during a rainfall event. This is a helpful tool to help the farmer decide what may be headed their way in terms of runoff. The windspeed and direction is important for deciding when to apply pesticides and weed control..
One of the measurement stations from Joe Lord with the compact weather station WS600-UMB
The dewpoint is a special measurement for cranberries. Many people don’t understand the effect of “Black Ice”. This occurs when the dewpoint is lower than the temperature. Black Ice conditions create evaporation out of the cranberry plant thus cooling the plant to a temperature colder than that of the air. Cranberries are very sensitive to freezing! On some nights where the air temperature is at 34° F. / 1 ° C. but the dew point is relatively low the plants could freeze. Due to the low elevation bog areas where these plants grow and the sandy soil that they grow in (sand doesn’t hold heat), sprinklers are run at night or anytime after the plant starts growing to prevent freezing. This must be done under low temperature conditions until plants are dormant in the fall when it freezes. We have to place sensors at the vine level for monitoring the temperature in these beds. As an example, difference in temperature from outside the farm house to the cranberry vine level can vary sometimes as much as 8 degree C. even though they are only 25m apart with a difference in elevation of only 5m.
Lufft as system partner
For this application, Lufft WS family sensors are preferred by Lord Electric Control, the system manufacturer. They prefer Lufft WS family for the ease of installation and for the fact that they can connect them wirelessly into the system using MODBUS-RTU. Lord Electric Control designs and builds the control systems to be as solid as possible and last for years in the field. The Lufft WS Family assures the weather sensors will last as long as the controls in this case! The systems include a complete package for monitoring temps, moisture, reservoir levels, remotely starting and stopping pumps either manually or automatically and then send all of the data from the pumps and probes back to 1 or multiple locations for monitoring. This is all done wirelessly with a localized radio system that requires no special permits or licensing.
To view a few of the US cranberry farming projects that we have been involved in click on the website www.lordelectriccontrol.com.