By Jean-Paul MacDonald, Farms.com
Missouri farmers can play a vital role in supporting agricultural communities across the nation by reporting daily precipitation totals as citizen scientists. University of Missouri's Professor of Atmospheric Science and Interim MU Extension Climatologist, Tony Lupo, encourages farmers to join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS). This volunteer network of backyard weather observers measures rain, hail, and snow across all 50 states, Canada, and the Bahamas. The data is then compiled and mapped in real time, providing valuable information to climatologists and farmers alike. To participate, farmers can visit the CoCoRaHS website at www.cocorahs.org and report their precipitation totals using a rain gauge. Participation is free, and participants receive brief online training to ensure accurate reporting. The data collected through CoCoRaHS is utilized by the Farm Service Agency to determine federal drought and flood declarations, impacting assistance for row crops, livestock, forages, and specialty crops.
In addition to CoCoRaHS, Missouri farmers can benefit from resources such as the Missouri Climate Center and the National Drought Monitor. The Missouri Climate Center provides a direct link to the National Drought Monitor, offering current conditions and outlooks for drought severity at national, state, and county levels. This information is crucial for farmers and aids in decision-making.
Other valuable resources for the agricultural community include the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC), which offers customizable charts and growing season statistics for the Midwest region. The Vegetation Impact Program (VIP) monitors real-time information on frost, freeze, and drought conditions. Horizon Point, provided by MU Extension, offers various tools and advisories, including rainfall runoff estimators and scouting aids.
Farmers seeking climate-related decision tools can utilize Useful to Usable (U2U), which provides interactive tools for the Corn Belt region. The U2U Growing Degree Day tool helps estimate critical events for specific crops, while AgClimate View offers historical climate and yield data.
For Missouri-specific weather and climate-related information, the Missouri Climate Center, under the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, offers numerous articles and resources.
Additional online resources include the National Climatic Data Center, NOAA Climate Portal, Regional Climate Centers, State Climate Offices, and the National Weather Service.
By participating in CoCoRaHS and utilizing these resources, Missouri farmers can contribute to a comprehensive weather database, access valuable information, and make informed decisions to enhance their agricultural practices.