Monday, October 27, 2014

Weather and my farming

A little under a year ago I purchased a weather station that tracked some of the stuff that was important to me; the temperature, barometer reading, the amount of rainfall and the speed and direction of the wind.  
oregon scientific WMR300 weather station

It made a big difference in how I farm.  Temperature readings, basically the number of degrees over some minimum, are important for crops, and and it allowed me to get a better handle on what I might choose to grow in the future.

Grapes, for instance, require a certain number of heat units to ripen, and this varies per variety.    Corn requires a different number of heat units.   So having the information on my particular micro-climate at my farm is pretty important to knowing what choices I can make to maximize my chosen crop.

Another piece of data that turns out to be pretty handy is the rain gauge.  Knowing how much rain I've got allows me to make choices about the work I can do.  For instance, between January 1st and March 31st of 2014 I got 57 inches of rain.   The gauge at the local airport didn't show a total anything close to that -- but I'm in a mountain valley that funnels clouds in, and they have to rise to cross over the cascades, and that causes them to dump water.  What difference does that make?

Well, it means I have a pretty good idea of how soft the ground will be when I'm working, and over time, I can get a better feel for when, or maybe if, I need to irrigate.  With this much rainfall it hasn't been a concern this last year, but it may be in the future.  So having the record of what I might expect in terms of rain, and when it comes, will also help with choosing crops.

I'm about 10 miles away from the oso landslide  and the 57 inches of rain we got I believe was a big factor in causing it.  Both from water on the ground soaking in, and from the river being high for months, chewing away at the toe of the hill.

So the weather station that I bought 11 months ago pretty much stopped working.  I've done all the normal things; changed the batteries and checked and reset the display, but it just isn't working.  The first to quit was the rain gauge, and then the wind gauge failed, and about the only thing that works now is the thermometer.

So I did some research and read a lot of reviews, and I think I'm going to try a more expensive unit to see if it'll give me longer service.

I've chosen the Oregon Scientific WMR300 which I found at the best price at the time at costco, although they've raised the price by $50 since I purchased it a few days ago.  Costco had it cheaper than any other vendor that sold it, and they've got a good return policy, which helps a lot.  If it fails I've got a good chance to get my money back.  i

The station has a USB port that allows a pc to download the readings, and the display station itself will keep up to 3 years of data, and I'll let you guys know how it works.

Looks like the sensor array mounts on a single pole, which will be good.  With a 1,000 foot range I can place it in the field itself and get good readings.  I'll probably mount it on a pole attached to a fencepost.


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