Forecasting technology to give farmers the advantage

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UK farmers need improved weather forecasting technology if they are to cope with increasing weather extremes when planning crop management.

Responding to this critical need, Sencrop has launched three new, game-changing features that are immediately available to UK subscribers, with more precise and reliable forecasting up to six days ahead.

  • The forecast comparator:

Pulls forecast data from all the main weather models that inform UK, regional, and local forecasts – including HRMN5, operated by the Met Office – into a single, easy-to-read graph. The user can compare all the forecast models by meteorological measurement including rainfall, temperature, humidity, and wind speed.

  • Model ranking:

This feature ranks all the forecasting models in order of reliability for each type of meteorological measurement. As it is based on Sencrop weather station data, the ranking is specific to each user and changes depending on location and time of year.

  • Sencrop tailored forecasting:

Taking it a step further, users can generate a tailored and evolving forecast for the chosen location using both the main weather models and their own and surrounding Sencrop weather stations. Essentially, this creates a ‘new model’ which continually evolves as weather stations record data for the location, providing access to the most reliable forecast on the market for that specific user and their chosen location.

The three new features – developed by the company’s in-house team of researchers, engineers, data scientists, and software specialists – represents a solution to an identified need and a step-up in the innovative ag-tech firm’s offering to farmers across the UK.

“Weather forecasts are used to plan farm work and help producers to anticipate weather and disease risks which informs their application of plant protection products and irrigation,” says Mark Herriman, UK B2B manager at Sencrop.

“It’s not uncommon for farmers to consult three or four different weather forecasts, which are all on different websites or phone apps, and that makes the difficult and often inaccurate interpretations, even more difficult.

“We speak daily with farmers across the 31 countries we now operate in, to understand their day-to-day needs and challenges, and those discussions have highlighted that forecast accuracy and reliability is a massive hurdle in being able to anticipate and plan.”

Delving into what’s behind the capabilities of the new features, Mr Herriman explains a fundamental aspect of the new features. “Informed by field data from our network of over 35,000 weather stations, some 3,500 sited in the UK, and using machine learning, the software compares up to 40 different forecast models; making it possible to compare, score and determine the most accurate and reliable data for each Sencrop user, depending on their location and the time of year.

“The new features create a synergy between different data streams, comparing information from field monitoring with forecasts from established weather models – more than 60 million weather data points are received every day.”

What’s really important is that this information is accessible and easy to interpret, with farmers able to use their smartphones to access ultra-precise, ultra-local weather information like temperature, humidity, wind speed, and cumulative rainfall on their sites, with the ability to generate information and forecasts that can better inform them.

“We are working with some of the UK’s leading agronomy consultants to enhance access to data and its interpretation,” says Mr Herriman. “Being better informed means farmers can use their inputs as effectively as possible, for example, by applying products in weather conditions that maximise their effectiveness.

“They can also identify weather and disease risks for their crops like frost, mildew, and rust, and act accordingly.”

Sencrop user Eleanor Gilbert at Rookery Farm in Newbury was one of the first UK farmers to field trial the new features. “We’ve interrogated Sencrop technology into our arable operation, and the mobile app is now the most used app on our farm,” she says. “It helps us with decision making for field applications in respect to optimum weather timings, which has only been enhanced by the new features – it’s ultimately saving us time and money.”

Our aim is always the same, adds Mr Herriman. “To enable farmers to make the best decisions and reduce their crop risks, all with a positive agri-environmental impact.”

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