The Role of Weather Forecasting in Agriculture

Weather forecasting in food and agriculture is more than just a scientific curiosity. Having the advantage of knowing in advance the atmospheric conditions for a specific location can save your crops, protect your property, and even save your life in extreme situations. 

As a result, farm owners and operators, in general, are becoming more and more interested in services that tailor weather forecasts to their particular needs. Those needs include maximizing profits, minimizing losses, and increasing net farm income.

Weather data is an absolute necessity for any farmer to take into account in making critical decisions. Those decisions can include when to plant, spray, irrigate, and harvest.

MyDTN provides industry-leading weather insights. These allow you to make the right choices at the right time for your crops to thrive.

Tractor spraying

The importance of weather forecasting in agriculture

To say that weather plays a vital role in agriculture is an understatement. Working in harmony with the weather is fundamental to maximizing your agricultural products and crop yields successfully.

Successful crop growth depends on your ability to manage such factors as pests, diseases, water, fertilizer requirements, etc. For example, you can target your pest control with more precise data regarding the influence of climate on their lifecycle. 

All of these vital growth factors are greatly influenced by the weather. Unexpected bad weather can do terrible damage to crops and be the cause of soil erosion.

Even the successful transportation of your crop can be dependent upon the cooperation of the weather. The weather can also negatively impact the condition and potential of seeds while in the storage phase. It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that every aspect of crop culture is potentially affected by the weather.

For an example of how access to weather forecast data can benefit you, read on to find out how you can incorporate your weather forecast data into your irrigation scheduling.

Farmer watching sprinkler irrigation

Integrating weather forecast data into irrigation scheduling

Monitoring your crops along with using techniques like scheduled irrigation is relatively standard practice on the modern farm. Not only can such integration of weather forecast data conserve natural resources such as your precious water supply, but it can also significantly reduce your operating costs.

Incorporating your weather forecast into your irrigation scheduling may not be necessary to micro-integrate your forecast data at a daily level. However, simply knowing ahead of time that a particular week or even month will be wetter or drier than average can make a significant impact on your farm’s efficiency.

Base your irrigation scheduling decisions on the sophisticated weather data made available by the very best providers. This agricultural weather forecast data is backed by top meteorologists and data analysts. Sophisticated reporting will keep you informed about all important weather data, including precipitation and evapotranspiration, which is related to air temperature, humidity, surface solar radiation intensity, and wind speed.

This data becomes even more valuable and relevant when your local field data is incorporated, for example, data relating to your particular crop type. Forecast estimates can then be made more practical and appropriate for your local application. They can even take into account your crop’s precise stage of development and other local environmental factors.


The general usefulness of weather forecast data

Simply having access to an accurate agricultural weather forecast will not suddenly make you a master over the elements. So, how is it helpful to you?

This article will not address the broader topic of how farmers can adapt in the face of climate change. However, an agricultural weather forecast service is vital and helpful to you because it will give you the time you need to adapt to specific weather events.

You can still minimize the negative impact of adverse mid-seasonal weather phenomena as long as you can get advance notice.

Medium-range forecasts can equip you to take appropriate measures to cope with the anticipated weather. In addition, advances in technology and its increasing availability in rural areas allows farmers to take advantage of timely weather forecasts.

U.S. weather map forecast

Short-range and long-range forecasts

Public perception of weather forecasting is that meteorology is little more than guesswork with a scientific veneer, but the reality is far different. The scientific research involved in weather forecasting is extensive, highly sophisticated, and its science is improving rapidly.

This technological progress is necessary to combat the complexity of accurately predicting changes in the atmosphere. It is a daunting challenge. So what can you expect from short-range and long-range forecasts?

Over the last few decades, technological advances have yielded better short-range forecasting — forecasts between 1 and 14 days. Meteorologists analyze present weather conditions and use computer forecast models based on physics models. It stands to reason that the shorter the lead time on the forecast, the higher percentage of accuracy.

Algorithms used to make predictions based on physics models can only ever approximate the anticipated weather, and they cannot perfectly simulate the future atmospheric conditions.

Long-range forecasts are even more difficult. For long-range forecasts, it is not possible to use physics-based models. Different methods are required to make long-range forecasts.

Historical weather patterns form the basis for long-range forecasts. Using historical data, temperature and precipitation trends can be used to generate probabilities regarding different weather events.

Although predicting the future is not easy, advances in technology and increased understanding of science have yielded tremendous advances in weather forecasting. For this reason, the role of weather forecasting in agriculture is expected to take on more and more importance, particularly in this modern age of precision agriculture.

Accurate weather forecast data is vital for farmers. You can use this data to adapt and make meaningful and timely decisions on the farm.

MyDTN provides industry-leading weather insights. These insights will equip you with the up-to-date forecast you need right at your fingertips.