January 27, 2023
The importance of weather forecasting must be considered as the world continues to deal with global warming, climate change and its devastating effect on global food production. An excellent example is Africa’s climate change-induced agricultural struggles with fluctuating precipitation patterns.
In addition, a publication by the World Resources Institute reveals that global agricultural productivity might be reduced by 17% by 2050 as several fertile farmlands have been ruined due to wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and constant flooding, depleting the soil of its nurturing properties for sustainable agriculture.
As a result, modern farming through rapid technological advancement, as seen in precision agriculture, creates room to empower modern farmers with the requisite skills and technical know-how to turn their farm fortunes around by applying weather forecasting in farming. The advantages of weather forecasting are akin to possessing superior intelligence or the ability to circumvent unfavorable situations, as is the case with bad weather conditions.
So, whether you are dealing with the indiscriminate wilting of crops, or any of the many issues smallholder farmers experience, you have an unprecedented advantage over the elements and “so called” opposing forces of nature when you can accurately predict the weather.
Weather forecasting in farming refers to the prediction of the atmospheric condition of a place at a given time to ascertain its suitability or unsuitability for agricultural activities.
This modern agricultural practice stems from the relationship between stable atmospheric conditions such as rainfall, sunshine, temperature, humidity, air, and bountiful yield.
So as a smallholder farmer, your ability to predict the weather by developing practical weather forecast skills adds to your ease at making informed decisions concerning your farm practices that make you a successful farmer — whether you deal in crops or livestock farming.
For example, weather forecasting enables you to properly plan your farm operations, such as planting, irrigation, fertilizer application, pruning/weeding, harvesting or livestock mating, since farming and agriculture as a whole chiefly depend on seasons and weather.
One of the advantages of weather forecasting is its preemptive quality — empowering farmers with knowledge of an area’s climatic changes before they occur!
Previously, farmers relied on their intuition, past experience and power of observation and perception to predict the weather. As a result, they experienced significant losses due to poor judgment. The inaccuracy of these methods has been further compounded by the now frequent and unpredictable changes in weather due to climate change. An example of this is the rise in extreme weather conditions like storms, floods and droughts that were seen in sub-Saharan Africa between 2010 and 2020.
However, technology today adds finesse to modern agricultural practice through the development of simple weather forecasting mechanisms for farmers enabling them to get weather updates on their smartphones.
The principal benefit of predicting the weather condition of a place at a given time is proper farming decisions. Prior weather knowledge helps you make choices that minimize costs and maximize agricultural yields and profits. This way, you can, as a farmer, reduce your vulnerability to extreme environmental impact.
Similarly, understanding the importance of weather forecasting is essential for driving agricultural production by influencing crop growth, development and yield, including pest and disease incidence, coordinating water and nutrient or fertilizer uptake, etc.
On the flip side, a farmer’s inability to predict the weather may destabilize plant and animal performance by causing physical damage, erosion, etc.
As a smallholder farmer, knowing various types of weather forecasting will enable you to seamlessly leverage the tools at your disposal for analyzing agricultural weather parameters regarding the estimation of atmospheric precipitation, temperature and historical data to plan your farm operations correctly, whether it be planting, pesticide and fertilizer application or harvesting.
For instance, EOSDA crop Monitoring collaborates with aWhere to provide agricultural weather analytics and high-precision forecasts through the following means:
The basis for classifying weather forecasts for any given area depends chiefly on the climatic duration.
Below are the types of weather forecasts when dealing with agricultural matters.
Now casting describes current weather variables within zero to three hours. It gives a complete set of complex variables such as relative humidity, temperature, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, and type and amount of cloud precipitation. The importance of weather forecasting with Now casting is the instantaneous extrapolation of atmospheric variables in real-time.
The short-range weather forecast has a one to two days validity, beyond 12 hours, lasting up to 72 hours and dramatically influences small-scale farmers’ daily routines for food production and personal comfort. It introduces a relatively complete set of variables, just like Now casting.
Medium-range weather forecasting lasts three to four days and up to two weeks. They are usually created for modest strategic resolutions vital for advanced agricultural planning and development. When inaccurately done, it leads to severe adverse outcomes for farmers.
This weather forecast is so named for its extended validity period of ten days to four weeks and is employed chiefly for differentiating from regular predictions. The forecast is usually restricted to only essential variables like temperature and precipitation. Additionally, long-range weather forecasting is used for seasonal planning for the crop type variety, farm input redistribution, harvest arrangement, etc.
The importance of weather forecasting in farming is not exclusive to enhancing crop production, livestock flourishing and income generation. And, while weather forecasting does have a variety of application for farmers, some of the less obvious benefits are as follows:
Fertilizers are made from a combination of chemical elements, some water-friendly or antagonistic. As a result, with weather forecasting, farmers like you can know the best time to apply fertilizer to your farms. The soil must be neither too dry to prevent penetration nor wet to the extent of runoff for maximum fertilizer effect, which is what a proper weather forecast does for you.
Pests are a significant menace to flourishing farmlands, and they attack plant growth and negatively impact overall yield. However, what use are your pest control measures when the weather seems uncooperative, either via excessive rainfall to wash them off or heavy winds to prevent proper settling? Also, some winds could bring pests to your farm from neighboring locations. As a result, proper weather forecasts will guide you in predicting when pests may come and on the best time to implement pest control measures for optimal results.
Smallholder farmers have so much to gain by harnessing renewable energy, like its cost-effectiveness and minimal environmental impact. However, you need precision through accurate weather forecasting to tap into and utilize renewable energy in your farm, whether wind or solar power.
Some days are just more suitable than others for field work. For example, dry, coarse soils on hot days are challenging to till, while moisture-sufficient grounds are easier to work on. This explains field workability in the sense that accurate field meteorological data through weather forecasting guide you on when and when not to work on your farmland, allowing you to plan the best daily schedule for your fieldwork.
The artificial application of water to farmland for increased agricultural production is irrigation. However, due to the adverse effect of climate change and global warming, without proper timing, you could lose all the artificially applied moisture through evapotranspiration caused by extreme temperature and solar radiation or prolonged periods of drought. It means that adequate weather forecasting can help avert such situations of wasted effort, as seen in climate-smart agricultural approaches to managing weather information for accuracy and control in crop production.
Farming remains at the very base of global life sustainability, and there is every need to make it (farming) more productive than ever by harnessing the advantages of weather forecasting. As a result, Jiva — a technology-backed ecosystem driven by the vision to improve smallholder farmer livelihoods at scale provides personalized AI-powered advice engines to help deliver relevant, feasible advice to smallholder farmers when you need it. We make this possible by gathering weather information and using it as input to provide advice to farmers in real-time, according to your farm environmental conditions.