Davis Instruments Extends Power of Station Networks
California-based weather station manufacturer Davis Instruments has had no issue selling high-value crop farmers and consultants on the benefits of weather stations and a network of field sensors — “for crops like almonds and wine grapes, it’s a no-brainer,” says Joel O’Camb, Product Line Manager, Weather. For row crop farmers, it’s been tougher sledding but they, too, are slowly coming around.
Irrigation monitoring has been low hanging fruit in the West Coast through Midwest regions with lots of pivots and so much riding on water optimization, but what about everyone else?
More value to all farmers using Davis’ EnviroMonitor platform comes on two fronts — the ability to use third-party sensors, and the ability to create a mesh network that connects data-collecting nodes over wide areas. O’Camb says it remains to be seen which sensors stand the test of time as far as value to the farmer.
With mesh networks, the data collection is centralized to one unit, which transmits the information via a single cell connection, saving cost while providing solid coverage. Soil moisture monitoring, tracking chill units and growing degree days, frost forecasting, and IPM data are trackable via the platform.
“The network is also self-optimizing and self-healing, meaning if any node would go down for whatever reason, the remaining nodes will continue to communicate to find a new path and proceed to feed data,” says O’Camb.
Allowing permission-based data sharing also provides value. Davis’ EnviroMonitor platform allows farmers to give designated service providers permission to view data that leads to more collaboration and better decision making.
“It’s a critical layer (data sharing) that the farmer can use in the process of making decisions, but this puts the control over data firmly in the hands of the farmer, which is really the best of both worlds,” says O’Camb.