Rainfall data collected by a network of radars operated by the National Weather Service will be integrated into an application that helps farmers forecast corn yields throughout the growing process.
The Optimizer 2.0 application, developed by Advanced Ag Solutions LLC, now includes a feature that accumulates Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) rainfall data for unique fields. NEXRAD is a system of high-resolution Doppler weather radar stations operated by the National Weather Service.
Daryl Starr, president of Advanced Ag Solutions, said integrating rainfall data into Optimizer 2.0 has been a company priority.
"Feedback indicated that users wanted rainfall data for every field, which we now can deliver," he said. "We expected to launch the app with this feature, but we had to be certain how receptive growers would be to a site-specific yield model. The addition of more than 450 users since the spring 2012 launch indicated it was time to move forward with adding rainfall data."
Optimizer 2.0 features a free daily text alert of changing yield forecasts by county. Farmers sign up for the app by going to http://www.optmzr.co  or texting their ZIP code to 765-560-4130. Subscribers enroll their own fields to view projections by each soil type of the field.
"Originally the weather data was derived from the ZIP code of the field," Starr said. "Although this provided unique and powerful information related to crop development across wide regions, users asked for more detailed data."
Rainfall data collected by NEXRAD is published hourly and daily. Starr said for Optimizer 2.0 to work with the spatial rainfall data, subscribers must enroll a particular field into the system. The latitude and longitude information is used to pull information each day.
"Optimizer helps identify locations that may have too much or too little rainfall, which can make crops suffer," he said. "The app suggests what is most limiting the crop yield, such as the impact from the weather, so a farmer can remedy the situation by adjusting other areas of operation."
Although other technologies provide rainfall data for famers, Starr said he and his colleagues at Advanced Ag Solutions are looking at a bigger picture.
"We want to help farmers make spatial decisions within the field," he said. "Rainfall data from the NEXRAD network of Doppler radars is part of the information needed."
Advanced Ag Solutions is an affiliate of the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.