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Weather

Imagine if your only source for daily weather information was the Farmers’ Almanac (Geiger and Duncan 2013) and sticking your head out the door. Well, that is essentially the current state of plant pest modeling. Almost all of it is based upon research that was conducted 20 to 50 years or more ago and those efforts were largely insufficient at the time. Global warming and other man-made environmental changes are rapidly changing the once long-term reliable weather patterns (Coakley 1988). Weather data parameters have proven to be particularly useful variables in plant pest modeling (Bourke 1970, Gleason, Duttweiler et al. 2008). Unfortunately, plant models developed for specific geographic regions may only be valid for certain climates and microclimate may have a significant impact on their effectiveness (Coakley 1988, DeMilia 1994). Even the best of the models can use some fresh data and tinkering.

Whether you choose to believe actual facts or alternative facts, you’ve probably heard all about Global Warming. Man made hydrocarbons affect our atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. Does your local farmer really care about a few warmer days each year, a longer growing season, and higher CO2 levels? No! The plants sure are going to love that! After all, they just love the cozy conditions of farm greenhouses! Unless you're living in the Arctic or India, the real problem is not just a few degree warmer temperatures, but rather the dramatic changes to the weather patterns that Global Warming creates. These include melting of the ice caps, rising sea levels, changing rain and snow patterns, wider shifts in the jet stream, increased storm intensity, etc. All of these weather changes have an effect on every living organism on the planet. They don't just affect the ones living right now; they affect their life cycles and evolution. Scientists don’t really know exactly how plants and their pests are going to respond to all this change, but one thing is clear already...things are amiss! Farmers around the world recently have been having an absolute nightmare dealing with unusual cycles of heat waves, cold spells, flood, drought, hail, and violent storms… Global Storming! The weather data monthly precipitation totals and temperature averages may be close to historical figures, but it's how we added them up that's the problem. For example, the rainfall normally spread out over the course of a month all coming down in one day! Hence, the plants never get a break from soaked roots gasping for oxygen followed by wilted leaves gasping for water, over and over all over the course of a growing season. So you see, it is not so much Global Warming itself that we need to be concerned about in agriculture in the United States, it is the Global Storming that it generates that is wreaking havoc upon our crop fields. You know that old adage, "You can't change the weather"? Well, dang it, we sure did! So now we’ve got to get creative in how to deal with it. One tool in the toolbox we can use is Pest Forecasting Models based upon the actual rather than the expected weather.

DeMilia Research LLC is taking the initiative to rejuvenate research on plant pest data collection and modeling. The DeMilia Research Farm is the first such research facility dedicated solely to the comprehensive testing of plant pest models and it is expected to make a significant contribution to such research. National Weather Station data will be the primary source of weather data for plant disease models. The weather data engine will be one of the base modules of DemiAg. Weather data parameters also will be an integral part of the DemiAg Expert System for Agricultural Pest Management knowledge bases. Be sure to also check out our future smartphone and tablet app, What Was The Weather.

A central weather station on the farm will measure localized temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, leaf wetness, rainfall, etc. Supplemental portable solar powered weather micro loggers and leaf wetness meters will be used throughout the farm to measure microclimate effects. Microclimate weather data will be collected to supplement National Weather Service meteorological data used for environmental based models. In addition to using on-farm weather data for plant disease forecast models, studies will also be conducted for microclimate effects, plant pathogenesis, plant disease epidemiology, and global warming.

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Coming in the future. We need to get weather equipment before we can conduct experiments. We appreciate any donations towards our farm infrastructure.

 
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