Fonterra farmers to trial new high-tech weather stations

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Fonterra famers will trial a new cutting edge technology that is tipped to revolutionise the on-farm weather forecasting and bring greater precision to New Zealand dairy farms.

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By working with MetService and BloomSky – a smart weather camera station that delivers hyperlocal weather information in real-time to any connected device – the co-operative believes that it will enable farmers to achieve a far more efficient farm management.

Fonterra said more than 70 BloomSky weather stations will be installed by farmers across the country in the coming months.

According to the dairy giant, MetService will use the data from the devices to provide forecasting through data analytics to all users of Agrigate – the online dashboard developed by Fonterra Farm Source and LIC – to give farmers all necessary information to make calculated and smart decisions.

Fonterra farmer Kevin Argyle, who is trialling the solar-powered ‘SKY2’ device as well as the wireless add-on called ‘Storm’, has witnessed first-hand how the BloomSky system measures temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction, UV and barometric pressure to give him a detailed view of his farm’s climate.

“It really personalises it and enables us to make optimal on-farm decisions. People often underestimate the variability within relatively small geographical areas. The other day we had 29 millimetres of rain and a few kilometres down the road they had five. That’s a big difference when you’re thinking about the best time to cultivate a paddock or move stock,” he said.

“Weather is one of the more significant risks that impacts a farming operation so to have a real-time app that provides insights in terms of what has happened, what the current weather is and what it’s forecast to be for your property has huge potential value.”

Tim Cutfield, Fonterra Head of Agrigate said BloomSky’s technology can also work with smart devices such as thermostats or irrigation systems to control them based on the weather outside.

“By working with MetService and BloomSky we’re able to offer our farmers the latest technology while also looking for ways to innovate further in the future,” Mr Cutfield added.

“We know that the weather stations will be popular because of the positive feedback we’ve already had from those trialling the system, and also because our farmers are amongst the best in the world when it comes to the adoption of technologies that enhance animal health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and efficient farm management.”