The Michigan Beets network (Michigan and Ontario) of weather stations is maintained and serviced by Weather Innovations Inc. Jared Dahms is WIN’s lead technician and has been maintaining the Michigan Beets network for the past 2 years. Jared has been with WIN for 8 years and was responsible for WIN’s Saskatchewan network of 100+ stations prior to taking on the Michigan Beets network.
Jared is supported by Justin Wagenaar, WIN’s lead engineer and responsible for sensor/hardware development and modifications. Justin has been with WIN for 3 years and is responsible for network communications as well as new hardware development.
All weather stations are personally inspected every 4-5 weeks. On a daily basis, the entire network’s sensor data are inspected and basic quality control performed. Any issues noticed are addressed immediately. When there is a special service call needed arising from WIN’s data inspection or from a phone call from a site co-operator, WIN uses that opportunity to inspect other nearby stations so the inspections are done on a revolving basis. At the time of this FAQ , all stations had been inspected in the previous 23 days.
The leaf wetness sensors are deployed into the field as early as possible in the season, along with soil temperature/moisture sensors. They are placed approximately 10 feet from the field edge, at a height of 16 inches. This year, brand new leaf wetness sensors were installed at each station in Michigan and Ontario.
Each weather station has two leaf wetness sensors installed for added data validation.
The incoming leaf wetness data from the weather stations and the maps posted on michiganbeets.com are checked on a daily basis. Data issues are addressed immediately to ensure the maps are accurate, and a special station visit is scheduled when questions arise from the sensor readings.
Leaf wetness data are a very important driver for the accumulation of disease severity values and management of cercospora leafspot. For this reason, WIN has implemented various internal quality control processes.
Are the installation protocols consistent for every station or do they vary from one station to another?
Each station is set up using the same protocols. Sensors are placed according to their measurement protocols. There are some differences, such as station height and the height of the rain gauge, which vary according to telemetry/communication needs and location. All attempts are made to have stations with identical configurations; however, some variability that does not materially affect the sensor accuracy does exist.
WIN maintains a log database for all visits and tasks performed for every station.
A slight lean of the station pole has no effect on the operations of the temperature/RH sensor. The rain is more sensitive to level; however, this gauge is leveled independently and therefore a slight lean of the station pole will not affect the accuracy of the sensor information if the gauge is level. A more significant lean can develop due to unstable soil, high winds, or a bump by farm equipment. As soil dries out the problem may increase, and with a network that gets moved around both in-season and between seasons, the potential for going out of level increases. A significant lean can affect the rain gauge readings and this is addressed during the regular station visit; however, WIN appreciates receiving a call or email from anyone who spots a potential problem with equipment placement, level or condition. It should be noted that all automated rain gauges have variances due to rate of rainfall and due to high winds during rain events.