Frontier piloting UK-wide farm weather network

Arable growers could soon benefit from more accurate weather information after a UK-wide venture has established a network of connected weather stations.

The aim is to create more accurate forecasting that will help growers and their agronomists make better crop management decisions.

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The initiative is the result of a tie-up between ag-tech start up Sencrop and crop production company Frontier Agriculture.

About 300 weather stations including a rain gauge and wind mast have already been installed.

The target is to set up 480 units across 240 sites, which will give farmers access to data from their own site and other connected stations.

Frontier crop production technical lead Paul Fogg said smart use of weather data to drive decision support tools would become increasingly important.

Integrated pest management and evidence-supported decisions would become a prerequisite for farmers in the future, Dr Fogg said.

“Weather data will also help contextualise crop performance and inform future crop management decisions,” he said.

Man in a field with dry stone wall

Paul Fogg © Frontier-Sencorp

That could be timing of crop protection sprays, fertiliser applications, irrigation scheduling or other fieldwork – farmers could better target their resources by having real-time weather information at their fingertips.

In addition, contractors could identify the best locations to visit at any given time, minimising downtime and maximising productivity, Dr Fogg added.

The data would also enable better disease modelling, helping farmers to tackle barley yellow dwarf virus or blight, for example.

UK map with weather stations marked

© Frontier-Sencorp

“Earlier insight means agronomists can help farmers improve the quality of decisions in relation to disease intervention,” he explained.

An associated phone app allows farmers to view real-time data for up to 40 different in-field locations in their area, and can integrate information with their farm management software for environmental stewardship purposes.  

The weather stations are being supplied free of charge to help grow the network.

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