New products help users access weather info
Photo from WSU Photo Services
PROSSER - In an effort to provide valuable data to their technologically savvy clientele, the WSU AgWeatherNet development team has released two new weather products, as well as a third product developed by 4Quarters, Inc..
The first product is a new website, designed and formatted specifically for mobile computing devices. The AgWeatherNet mobile website will transform how the agricultural industry accesses real-time weather information, said William Corsi, technical coordinator of AgWeatherNet.
"This new product allows our user to access critical information when and where it is needed," said Corsi. "Our mobile site puts access to real-time weather and modeling information at the user's finger tips."
The mobile version will work on any mobile device featuring a Web browser, said Gary Grove, AgWeatherNet director and professor of plant pathology. Grove is based at WSU's Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser.
"Clients can configure the new product to browse weather-related information from any of AgWeatherNet's 133 weather stations, including current conditions, regional weather maps, raw weather data, disease forecasting models and much more," said Grove.
The second product AgWeatherNet has developed is a grape cold-damage decision-aid tool. The tool uses critical temperature data determined by WSU viticulture researchers. The tool provides information to facilitate both pruning and retraining decisions, said Grove.
"Temperature minima at many AgWeatherNet weather stations in wine country are used to identify potential areas of bud, bark and wood damage," said Grove. "The resulting information is critical for the adjustment of pruning levels and the determination of the necessity for vineyard retraining, one of the most costly and disruptive undertakings for Washington growers."
"This is a logical next step toward putting the cold hardiness data collected by Lynn Mills and others in our viticulture team to practical use," said Markus Keller, WSU professor of viticulture based at WSU's research station in Prosser. "It will give growers an additional tool in deciding how to respond to cold events throughout the winter."
The third product is AgAlertz (http://www.agalertz.com), developed by 4Quarters, Inc. of Yakima.
Employing a live data feed from AgWeatherNet, AgAlertz is a portfolio of user-defined "push" technologies that automatically deliver weather data, weather observations and disease models to mobile devices via e-mail, text messaging or synthesized voice technology.
The latter technology is particularly useful, Grove said, because more information can be delivered via voice "live" or, perhaps more important, via voice mail than via text messaging. Users have the choice of AgWeatherNet station location, weather parameter in near real-time, choice of disease model, output type (email, text messaging, or voice), and time and frequency of notification.
Grove said AgAlertz technology should be particularly useful to growers concerned with the potential for frost damage or those whose decisions include wind speed and direction as factors.
AgWeatherNet's expansion in western Washington continues. A new monitoring station was established near Olympia in early February. AgWeatherNet is now comprised of 133 monitoring stations throughout the state of Washington.
For more information about AgWeatherNet, please visit http://weather.wsu.edu/.