TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida farmers will soon be able to coordinate their crops with a few swipes of their smartphones.
It's all part of a digital makeover for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
A new program developed by the department in partnership with University of Florida's Automated Weather Network, will provide up-to-the-minute information on key weather variables, including rainfall, temperature, humidity, dew point, wind speed and wind direction. The information is updated every 15 minutes.
Agriculture secretary Adam Putnam says the app will help farmers make decisions on water use, pesticide spraying and nutrient applications. It also helps farmers determine when to irrigate during a frost or freeze.
"Real-time weather data will also help producers save costs and mitigate their impact on the environment," Putnam said in a news release.
The agency has partnered with agricultural producers to install the weather stations and input data into a test site.
Right now, 79 operations are participating in the pilot program. Producers are eligible to receive funding for one weather station for each 300 acres of the operation. The department provides 75 percent of the cost of each device up to $5,000, with a total cap of $25,000 per producer.
An online map of the state aggregates data collected from weather stations on private agricultural lands throughout Florida. It's also available on Android smartphone platforms and an iPhone app will be available in coming months.
Historical data will soon be added to the site, which is called "My Florida Farm Weather."
This isn't the only cyber change at the Department of Agriculture. Last week, the agency unveiled a new website design. That features a search function, a live chat and an interactive and searchable database of seafood testing conducted after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Consumers can see what crops are in season so they can buy Florida-grown produce.
On the Web: http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/mffw/
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