CWB launches online weather centre

The Canadian Wheat Board’s partnership with U.S. weather data firm WeatherBug has gone to the next step with the launch of a new online weather centre for Prairie farmers.

The new weather centre, launched Wednesday at the Western Canada Farm Progress Show in Regina, gives subscribing farmers the ability to manage data from the CWB/WeatherBug weather monitoring network, which the board called “the most extensive” in Western Canada.

The online centre is fed with data from a subscribing farmer’s own weather station, if he or she has one, along with “hundreds” of others installed in recent months on farms, at JRI’s Pioneer Grain elevators, and at farm retail outlets across the West, the CWB said.

Farmers who buy a $900 WeatherBug monitoring station to install on their property can subscribe to the online weather centre via the CWB’s e-Services page on the board’s web site for $99 per year. Farmers without a weather station can subscribe for $199 per year.

Subscribers can access weather station information through home computers, personal handheld devices or cellphones, and weather information is updated every few seconds, with localized forecasts updated hourly and weather warning alerts available, the CWB said.

The latest addition to the station network is on the roof of the Credit Union EventPlex at Ipsco Place (formerly Regina Exhibition Park), host venue for the Farm Progress Show. The CWB is offering farmers a look at the data at its booth at Banner Hall in the Queensbury Convention Centre, through Friday.

“This new weather network is proving extremely popular with Prairie producers,” said CWB weather analyst Guy Ash, who heads the WeatherBug project for the board.

“We are struggling to keep up with demand at this point, which is a good indicator of the need that’s out there,” Ash said in a release Wednesday. “Producers want very specific weather information to feed into their farm management plans — whether it’s for maximizing fertilizer applications or estimating crop quality.”

Alberta-based Parkland Agri-Services, Bayer CropScience and other organizations have signed up to become partners in the CWB/WeatherBug network, the board said. The CWB had initially planned last August to connect over 600 stations over three years, but said it has so far picked up commitments from farmers and other businesses to install about 900 such stations.

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