Climate Basic and Pro offer hyper-local weather monitoring for farmers

Rains can be sporadic events in the Delta. How many times have you seen it rain on one end of a field and not the other? Or in a neighboring field and not in one of yours? Or at one end of the county and not the other?

Trying to schedule field operations around rain events when you farm in one block can be difficult, but trying to arrange them when you have fields 25 and 30 miles apart can be a nightmare. That’s where services like Monsanto’s new Climate Basic and Climate Pro could help.

Climate Basic and Climate Pro are services Monsanto has begun providing through its acquisition of Climate Corp., in October, 2013. Climate Corp. provides what it calls “hyper-local: weather monitoring,” agronomic data modeling and high-resolution weather simulations to help farmers better manage their day-to-day operations.

“Climate Basic is available to farmers almost anywhere in the United States,” says David Rhylander, climate strategic accounts manager for Monsanto. “There is no cost to it; you just have to get on the Climate Corp. site and sign up for it and enter the number of fields you want. You will have to enter some data like the maturity of your corn, when did you plant and that type of information.”

Climate Pro is a service that provides growers with six different types of advisers, including such features as a planting adviser, a nitrogen adviser. “It will help you understand what’s going on with your nitrogen and what kind of insights they can provide to help you manage the nitrogen levels in your corn if you want to achieve higher yields,” Rhylander notes.

“It has a pest adviser, which monitors pests; it has a field adviser, which is satellite imagery. They give you four satellite image shots over the summer so you can pick out areas where I have problems and areas that are really doing well.”

At the end of August or early September, Monsanto planned to introduce the revenue adviser, which will help farmers predict the yield for those particular fields. (Rhylander was interviewed at the Asgrow/DeKalb agAcademy in Union City, Tenn., in early August.) Then Monsanto plans to launch the harvest adviser, which will allow the farmer to pick a date when he plans to harvest.

“It will calculate, based on all their modelings of information, what the grain moisture will be in that particular field on that date,” he noted. “Let’s say it’s Sept. 15. It will calculate what the moisture will be in that field on Oct. 15. That will allow me to better understand whether I should wait to harvest that field or harvest it earlier or line up grain drying.”

Rhylander said it’s possible for growers to look at more than their own fields with Climate Basic. Prior to the field day, he entered the information for the 111-acre field where the agAcademy event was held on the outskirts of Union City.

But he can also look at climate data for other parts of the country. Last spring, for example, he selected three fields in the Lubbock area of west Texas. The fields were irregularly-shaped, which indicated they were probably non-irrigated.

Thus, when rains arrived on the High Plains after months of severe drought, Rhylander was able to see how much rain and over how widespread an area the rain was falling. Within a matter of days, the markets reacted and cotton futures began their fall from the 80-cent area to the current 65-cent area.

“You can go just about anywhere on it,” says Rhylander. “It’s one of those tools that if you start playing around with it, you learn the inside and outside tricks of it. When you get to next year you’ll have a better understanding of it.”

The technology may also be useful when Monsanto receives federal regulatory approval for its new Roundup Ready Xtend technology. The system will provide growers with forecasts for that day’s wind direction and speed and for the next seven days to give producers a better idea of when they can spray the new dicamba formulations over its dicamba-tolerant crops.

Read more information about Monsanto’s acquisition of Climate Corp.

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