A Grower’s Guide to Weather-Driven Crop Protection

Read Time: 3 minutes
June 20, 2024
Dr. Stephen Shield
Weather Data Scientist at Climate

Amidst changing weather patterns, unpacking the connection between nature and crop health can be incredibly complex. That’s where my research comes in. My team creates tools in Climate FieldView™ to help understand how weather patterns and field conditions are related. We search for the relationships between weather and plant health to help growers make the best decisions possible. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of weather research, uncovering how data is collected and its critical role in managing diseases and pests throughout the growing season.

The Science of the Weather

Behind the scenes, weather researchers like myself employ various methods to gather and analyze meteorological data. From ground based weather stations to remote sensing techniques like satellites and radar, we use a wide range of methods to collect real-time data on temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind patterns. We can then use all of our data together with machine learning and artificial intelligence to build the predictive tools that tell us what is likely to occur in the future. This allows us to anticipate disease outbreaks and pest infestations more accurately—and give growers the upper hand in combating them.

Weather’s Impact on Disease and Pest Insurgence

During the growing season, weather greatly influences disease outbreaks and pest invasions in crops. Factors like rainfall, humidity and temperature fluctuations can significantly influence the emergence and severity of fungal diseases and insect pests.

Humidity fosters fungal growth. But hot weather can help a certain bug prosper.

We all know that wet conditions lead to an increase in fungal pathogens. On the other hand, drier weather can lead to infestations of grasshoppers. To complicate it even more, warmer temperatures can also accelerate the reproductive cycles of both fungal diseases and pests like grasshoppers. This illustrates the complex, interconnected nature of agriculture and the ecosystem. It’s never just one thing, it’s numerous effects throughout the environment.

Cold winter kills off some fungal spores and pests. But not all!

Diseases like southern rust and pests like corn earworm typically don't survive colder temperatures. However, a warmer winter, like last winter for many in the Midwest, could lead to some pests and diseases overwintering farther north than usual. Other fungal spores and pests can overwinter over the majority of crop producing regions and can remain dormant for several seasons, emerging only when conditions are right. Regardless of Mother Nature’s plans for you, keep monitoring the weather because with every change, one crop threat may be reduced, while another is increased. Understanding these nuances is key for farmers trying to protect their yields against weather-related risks.

The Key to Weather-Smart Farming

By integrating weather data with advanced analytics and predictive modeling, FieldView empowers growers to proactively address diseases and pests during the growing season. For farmers who are dedicated to fine-tuning their crop management strategies, FieldView offers a comprehensive suite of weather tools that enables a deeper dive into the climate impacts on individual fields. It helps growers do more than keep tabs on temperature and rain; by matching up old weather data with how well their crops did, they can learn which weather conditions work best for their fields—or which ones to be prepared for.

Think of FieldView as your weather research tool. But unlike my research, you can customize all the data to your acres.

This way, farmers like you aren’t just reacting to the weather, you’re staying one step ahead to make the best decisions. These insights empower farmers to adjust their management practices not just reactively but proactively, preparing them better for similar conditions in the future.

Technology plays a critical role in navigating the relationship between weather dynamics, disease management and pest control. By harnessing the predictive analytics and weather insights that FieldView offers, farmers can tackle weather-related challenges head-on this season and take the extra step in protecting their crops from unwanted diseases and pests. As always, reach out to our support team with any questions, and happy growing!

About the Author

Dr. Stephen Shield is a Weather Data Scientist at Climate. He joined Climate in 2022. In his current role, he works to create predictive models that help growers make a variety of decisions, as well as new weather datasets for agricultural applications. Stephen received his undergraduate degree in Meteorology-Climatology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, A master’s degree in Geography from The Ohio State University, and his PhD in Earth & Atmospheric Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Growing up Stephen spent summers helping on his grandparent’s farm in central Nebraska and still enjoys going back to visit and hearing about the latest happenings on the farm.