Web Resource Gives Current Weather Effects on Illinois Agriculture, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release April 11, 2005
Web Resource Gives Current Weather Effects on Illinois Agriculture
Bob Scott - (217) 333-4966, Fax: (217) 244-0777, rwscott1@illinois.edu
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540, eva@sws.uiuc.edu

Now that the growing season is here, this is a reminder to the agricultural community about the services provided by the Illinois State Water Survey’s (ISWS) Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program Web site (http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/warm/agdata.asp) with user-friendly information on agricultural impacts and benefits derived from real-time weather conditions across Illinois.

The WARM program was created in the late 1980s to coordinate monitoring of several pre-existing statewide data collection efforts at the ISWS, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Four years ago, WARM began displaying much of those data on its Web site, specifically providing daily updated weather information and soil temperatures at various depths from 19 automated climate stations operated by the ISWS. Bi-weekly observations of soil moisture conditions, collected across the state since 1981, were added in 2002.

Last year, together with the Integrated Pest Management group at the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences (http://www.ipm.uiuc.edu/), a degree-day calculator was added to track and project growth cycles of 30 agricultural pests as well as growing degree-days for corn and cold weather crops. Computations just added this spring are for three new pests: fruit tree leafroller, lilac borer, and western bean cutworm.

Here’s how the calculator works. Users choose the station nearest their own location and a pest. Degree-day accumulations for some pests, regardless of location in Illinois, have a specific calendar day, or biofix date, when heat tracking begins, such as January 1 each year. Accumulations for other pests are tied to specific user-provided events: first spring trapping of adult pests, sight of insect eggs, etc. The program then generates expected growth rates and provides information on potential impacts from that day forward as degree-day thresholds for the pest are reached.

Another option allows users to track their fields’ crop growing degree-day accumulations by entering a planting date. Just a click away are maps of current weather information and soil temperatures under both bare soil and sod surfaces at the weather stations, monthly issues of the Illinois Water and Climate Summary, and other current and historical data from various ISWS water and atmospheric resources networks. Check it out.

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