FARMERS in the Riverland and Mallee will have unfettered access to hi-tech weather information this season, as the $1.4-million Mesonet weather network is now "fully online".
The 30 new automatic weather stations installed across the region add to the existing system of 40 weather stations in the Mid North.
Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said the network was a "game-changer" for farmers at the official launch of the Mesonet at Brinkley today, where cropper Tim Harvey hosts one of the weather stations as part of the network.
"This system of 70 automatic weather stations across the state provides farmers with highly accurate and targeted weather data which can better inform decision-making, especially when it comes to using agricultural chemicals," Mr Basham said.
"Estimates currently put the potential loss of value of agricultural production from spray drift in the three regions at over $430m a year so it is important we continue to educate and put management tools in place to address this issue.
"Having real time data at hand will assist farmers to determine and identify the potential for weather patterns such as thermal inversions, enabling them to make responsible and informed decisions about when to spray or not.
"Where the Mesonet system has been operational over the past two years, there has been a significant decline in the number of spray drift reports.
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"This is a great example of what can be achieved when government and industry work together in finding solutions to what has been a long-standing problem."
The new weather stations were established by the Ag Excellence Alliance using funding from the state government's Regional Growth Fund.
Ag Excellence Alliance project leader Mark Stanley said the Mesonet network was the only permanent network in Australia which measured and publicly displayed the Vertical Temperature Difference to show the presence of a thermal inversion.
"They are also one of the few which have been designed by both meteorologists and local agricultural experts to ensure they are specifically suited to agricultural needs," he said.
"We also ensured the Mesonet website works well on smart phones and in low internet areas, along with easy to interpret colour-coded maps as such important data is useless if it can't be accessed or interpreted by users."
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