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Free Access To Prairie’s Biggest Weather Service

You can sign up for the Canadian Wheat Board’s new Weather-Farm website for free and tap into current weather information from any of the 700 WeatherBug stations across the Prairies. WeatherBug stations provide key measurements for spraying decisions and pest management. These include temperature, humidity and wind direction and speed.

Once you sign up and log on at www.weatherfarm.com,you can set the home page to show data from the station nearest your farm. At the top left, find “Home Location” and click on “change” to pick the one you want. To see current and historical data from any site, just click that location on the map.

WeatherFarm also has live data maps, including Doppler Radar so you can see systems coming in.

A box at the top right gives weather warnings. You can customize these warnings to alert you if, for example, wind speed reaches a certain level.

Under the Crop Management tab, you’ll find maps showing accumulated growing degree days, freeze severity, and prediction models for fusarium, sclerotina and wheat midge.

While at the site, you can also get historical data from each station, commodity prices (updated every 10 minutes), and news feeds from www.agcanada.comand www.producer.com.

WHAT YOU NEED

The system is designed for PC computers and works best with Internet Explorer 7.0 and up or Firefox. It will also work with a Mac. If you have questions about setting up your site and getting the most out of it, start with “Frequently asked questions” under the Help tab at the top of the website.

You don’t need a high-speed Internet connection to view the website, but you do need high-speed if you want to set up your own weather station.

GET YOUR OWN STATION

Almost all of the 700 stations are on farms. Farmers pay for these stations to give them accurate and handy weather data for their own farms. Some bigger farms actually have more than one. If your nearest station is only a few miles away, you may feel you don’t need your own. When you phone to buy one, the CWB will alert you if a station is already close to your farm. “But in a lot of cases that doesn’t stop them,” says Alison Sass, CWB’s WeatherFarm contact person. “They want the data from their own farm. From the CWB’s point of view, it’s good to have redundancy. If one station goes down, the other station nearby is still working.”

Stations cost $1,750, which includes installation by a qualified technician and five-year warranty. (Everything is on one pole, as you can see in the photo.) Power comes from solar and battery, so you can put them anywhere. It feeds information directly into your computer. To order one, contact Alison Sass at 204-983-4783 or [email protected]

If you order one now, you’ll be near the top of the list to have one set up before seeding, Sass says. Stations mounted on buildings can be put up in winter. But it’s hard to pound a pole three-feet into frozen ground to set up a field-located station in winter, she says.

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