Innovative Weather Service Helps On-Farm Decision Making
  • 8 January 2013

Innovative Weather Service Helps On-Farm Decision Making

 

Access to precise weather information is key to making good farm management and production decisions. Weather INnovations Incorporated (WIN) of Chatham specializes in gathering, analyzing and delivering weather-based advisories to farmers. WIN’s clients are businesses and organizations who support specific services that are then available to their members or customers at no cost.

“Our business model is unique in that we are a for-profit, private company but we use the same outreach mentality as public institutions,” says WIN president Ian Nichols. “We take weather data, collected from our own stations and additional external sources, and can customize that information for farmers, right down to the specific fields on their property.”

WIN has close to 900 monitoring sites in Canada, as well as the rain gauge network that Agricorp uses for forage insurance. The company owns and operates 10 different websites with a wide range of weather-related services for clients in Canada and abroad. Support from Bioenterprise helped launch WIN as an independent business.

What role did Bioenterprise play in the growth of WIN?
WIN started at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus in 2000 as the Ontario Weather Network, spinning off into a stand- alone company in 2006. Bioenterprise helped negotiate WIN’s purchase of assets from the University of Guelph.

“This was not a simple task and we had to make sure everything was open, transparent and on a level playing field,” says Nichols. “Bioenterprise helped us get launched, which was a real value to us.”

Nichols continues to meet regularly with business advisors from Bioenterprise, which he likens to having a Board of Directors with whom he can discuss new opportunities and projects.

What’s the benefit to Ontario farmers?
Accurate, site-specific weather data means farmers can make better planting, spraying and harvesting decisions that can cut costs and boost crop quality.

For example, a vineyard monitoring system alerts Ontario grape growers when ground temperatures are low enough for frost so they can activate wind machines to protect their vines. WIN also validates ice wine picking hours for the Vintner’s Quality Alliance (VQA) – it must be -8C or lower to be ice wine – which helps grape growers protect market value.

Ontario grain growers can access tools like SPRAYcast®, where they can view a three-day forecast of spraying conditions on their specific farm, and WHEATcastTM, which provides advice on when to scout wheat fields for specific diseases.

“One of our new products about to be released is BINcast®, that provides producers storing grain a five day forecast of drying and grain conditioning potential for their specific grain in their specific grain bins, wherever they may be located.” explains Nichols. “This can mean better quality grain and fewer fan hours, which lowers energy consumption and cuts costs.”

More information about WIN is available at www.weatherinnovations.com. Funding for Bioenterprise is provided under Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. Visit www.bioenterprise.ca.