By Rick Lusher
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) is a great resource for citrus growers. Its mission is to leverage timely, reliable and accurate weather data in support of effective agricultural decision-making and stewardship of natural, human and fiscal resources. In addition to weather information accessible in multiple databases, there are user-friendly toolkits for cold protection, irrigation and citrus pesticide application. Also included is information on freeze risk.
FAWN is installing several new weather stations across the state. There will be seven new sites, for a total of 51 FAWN sites. So far, three are up and running: Panama City, Bristol and Poinciana. Bristol and Poinciana are part of a four-station agreement with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to install sites on their properties in support of their forestry-related mission. Bristol is located in the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. Poinciana is in the Disney Wilderness Preserve. At these sites, soil moisture and fuel temperature/moisture are measured, as well as other standard FAWN measurements. The other TNC sites will be at the Tiger Creek Preserve in Babson Park and the Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter. The remaining new sites will be located in Niceville and at the University of Florida DeLuca Preserve near Yeehaw Junction.
Panama City and Niceville are part of an effort to expand more into the Florida Panhandle and also to establish more sites near coastal locations for capturing rainfall associated with tropical systems that impact that region. The DeLuca Preserve site will provide valuable data for research.
In 2020, FAWN, the Florida Climate Center, the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia were awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a soil moisture network in support of their strategic plan related to drought and flood mitigation. FAWN’s roles in this project are to establish soil moisture sensors at each site and to work with the Florida Climate Center to integrate the data into various national programs. So far, about 15 sensors are installed. The data from these can be viewed on the FAWN website by selecting a station from the home page. Displayed are a one-month graph of soil moisture and temperature at 5 depths along with the daily rainfall amount at the site.
Visit https://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu to see data from all of the FAWN sites.
Rick Lusher is the FAWN project manager.
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