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Just in Time for Spring - Enhanced Soil Temperature Data on the Kansas Mesonet
By Chip Redmond
 
The Kansas Mesonet is introducing a new Soil Temperature page for the 2018 growing season. Building on our previous Soil Temperature page, it still displays the past week’s average but it also includes the average minimum and average maximum soil temperatures at both two and four inches. In addition, it is now updated three times per hour, giving a real-time look at soil temperatures throughout the state.
 
Timely soil temperature data can be very useful for producers, crop consultants, and agronomists. As spring approaches, soil planting conditions, particularly soil temperature, are critical for successful emergence and early-season uniformity of the crop. Planting when temperatures are too cold can delay emergence and increase the risk of disease. Plant roots aren’t directly influenced by air temperatures, but once soil temperatures drop below a certain threshold, wheat, for example, can become susceptible to winter kill. When fall comes around, soil temperature plays a large role when considering the timing of anhydrous ammonia applications.
 
New Soil Temperature page for 2018
 
The first item users will see is a newly designed banner bar at the top of the page (Figure 1). This banner can be removed by clicking the “x” in the upper right corner. Left of the map (or above for the mobile version) is a summary of the temperature data for the chosen station. A drop-down menu box is just below the 4-inch soil temperature summary to allow the user to select a different station. To the right (or below) is the latest two-inch soil temperature map by default. The “Change Map” drop-down box located just above the map allows users to choose between eight different map options. Below the station summary box on the left-hand side are various options, including the chart and download options. The page defaults to the table format but you can switch to the chart format simply by clicking the “Chart” tab.
 
Figure 1. New soil temperature page on the Kansas Mesonet.
 
One exciting new feature is the “Page Tour” link. This helps explain how to navigate the page so that you can access the information in the format that is most useful to you. As you step through the screens, the tour highlights each component and provides an explanation of that feature (Figure 2).
 
Figure 2. Page tour start (left image) and end (right image).
 
Another exciting feature is the ability to easily output the information in a variety of forms, including maps and comma-separated comma delimited files. This flexibility will allow you to tailor the data to your particular needs, whether that is an image for a newsletter or the raw data for use in research. For example, the chart feature displays both two and four-inch values over the past week (Figure 3). This provides insight to the trend over the previous seven days. It can also be compared to two-meter air temperature by selecting the faded “air temp” in the legend (Figure 4).
 
Figure 3. Soil temperature graphing option.
 
Figure 4. Close-up screenshot of soil temperature graph, 2-inch and 4-inch, combined with 6-inch air temperature.