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New partners tackle headwinds

Thanks to a new partnership between New Zealand’s national weather service MetService and “homegrown agri-tech experts” HortPlus, Wairarapa and other rural areas across the country will have access to improved weather forecasts that can be used in “new” and “innovative ways.”

MetService currently utilises more than 400 weather stations in New Zealand, while HortPlus has a network of close to 100 on orchards and farms.

The partnership will see information from the two weather station networks providing more data points for forecasting.

MetService business development manager Peter Fisher said the sharing of weather station data is set to be introduced in tranches, with the first station data already being shared and the remainder being shared over the next few months.

“You can never have enough data points as a forecaster. Having finer spatial and temporal resolution means we can better verify our forecasts and identify any anomalies with our respective stations,” Fisher said.

Along with Wairarapa, the partnership will also enhance forecasting in regional rural areas Bay of Plenty and Northland, where the distance between its existing weather stations was the largest.

It’s been reported that the agreement will involve data being sent to MetService by HortPlus every 10 minutes.

HortPlus director Mike Barley said access to MetService’s vast, high quality weather station network, along with stations of its partners, will “supercharge” the specialist pest, disease, and water management tools HortPlus provides to orchardists and farmers via its MetWatch platform.

HortPlus’ MetWatch platform role is to help growers in such sectors as kiwifruit, apples, vegetables, and arable crops to make decisions about water management, land use, and which pest and disease controls to apply through weather data and scientific models.

“We are thrilled to partner with an organisation like MetService that possesses such a degree of integrity and technical expertise, as well as an impressive forecasting network,” Barley said.

“Access to data provided by MetService weather stations will instantly improve coverage for the tools we provide to our customers and may also give rise to exciting opportunities to serve up some of our specialist horticultural pest, disease, and water management forecasting resources via MetService channels.”

Meanwhile, Wairarapa Federated Farmers president David Hayes told the Times-Age that while the region’s farmers are acutely aware of the importance of having the best weather forecasts possible, Federated Farmers encourages data sharing agreements to help benefit farmers, growers, and the community.

“The emergence of new technologies and more affordable private weather stations is seeing a rapid increase in the number of these that farmers and growers have,” Hayes said.

“It is good to see this large body of data is going to be used to improve weather forecasting for everyone.

“Good internet coverage continues to be an important issue for many parts of the Wairarapa. Without good internet connections, these weather stations cannot function.”

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