Mesonet Helping Oklahomans Navigate Variable WeatherMon, 25 Aug 2014 15:56:58 CDT
Agriculture has seen a lot of weather extremes that last few years. Speaking at the Oklahoma Ag Weather Symposium last Thursday at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma State University Mesonet Ag Coordinator Al Sutherland said the variability of weather can be found in the wide range of the statewide wheat yield.
"We have gone from way above 100 million bushels to way below 100 million bushels, so we're just bouncing around," Sutherland said. "And one of the things that the Mesonet offers is that we can really get down to individual numbers for individual days, individual stations and then we can look at that on charts or in other ways like maps and begin to make better decisions about where we are going, what the future looks like and how we can do a better job of trying to really ride through some of these changes in weather patterns."
The Oklahoma Mesonet is a unique working relationship between Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma and along with private partners. Sutherland said those steering committee members are the ones to look at the budget and look at the strategic direction of the Mesonet.
"They have always, throughout our history, they have always asked how can we serve the people of Oklahoma, how can we serve the agriculture community, public safety, education," Sutherland said. "So they really keep that on that on the front burner and that has really pushed us to make products that people can look at and make daily decisions."
One of the tools the Oklahoma Mesonet has developed is the Cattle Comfort Advisor. This allows producers to look at the their local county or region on-line and see what the numbers look like and producers can take the appropriate steps to keep their cattle in the comfortable range for heat stress. Sutherland said this tool is making a difference.
"A producer told me that he is using the cattle comfort advisor to adjust the mix that he feeds his cows between carbohydrates and protein.....that sounds pretty interesting when he can actually look at numbers based on weather that the Mesonet has measured and make those adjustments to try and get maximum gain out of his animals," Sutherland said.
Another tool farmers and retailers are using is the Drift Risk Advisor. Sutherland said this tool can applicators identify those times when they can minimize the risk of drift from weather conditions and also avoid wind directions that could potentially blow into a sensitive crop or sensitive area.
In looking at future projects, the Mesonet received funding from the state legislature to revamp instruments. Sutherland said they are also deploying multiple rain gauges and programmers are looking at how files are formatted, which will allow the public to access data very rapidly in the near future. In working toward better education, Sutherland said the Mesonet has also added a blog to accompany presentations, which can be used as a reference source for the public.
To learn more about Mesonet, visit their website by clicking here.
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