Iowa State University Extension has a new tool on the Forecast and Assessment of Cropping Systems website that displays weather summaries for every crop reporting district in 12 Midwest states — Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.
The FACTS weather summaries include data from 1984 through today, updated every month with information on temperature, precipitation, radiation and other weather indicators — like number of days with extreme weather rain events and the number of warm nights.
“This new tool provides an easy way for farmers and scientists to benchmark weather at any crop reporting district by month,” says Sotirios Archontoulis, professor of agronomy and member of the ISU FACTS team.
The new weather tool at ISU Extension enables you to select a crop reporting district from the nearly 1,000 counties across the Midwest. Once a district is selected, you choose a weather variable of interest and the month with the year, and the tool displays benchmarking graphs with options to download the data.
Weather data drives decisions
“This data can be crucial for decision-making on the ground and in the field,” Archontoulis says. “Weather is the main driver of yield and soil water [or] nitrogen fluctuations from year to year across the landscape, and having a benchmarking system that can be referenced will inform those decisions.”
This tool has aggregated weather data at the crop reporting district level for the first time, using 100 grids within a single crop reporting district instead of the typical one or two. The range of weather indicators available, as well as the flexibility in performing benchmark graphs, saves everyone time and gives greater detail than what has previously been available.
The weather data is a synthetic gridded product from various sources, called “IEM Reanalysis” system, which was engineered by Daryl Herzmann, Iowa Environmental Mesonet. The monthly gridded weather data is sufficiently accurate. The product captures 99% of the observed variability in temperature, 95% of the observed variability in radiation and 86% of the observed variability in precipitation in single point tests across 11 locations in the Corn Belt.