Eduardo Gelcer, Tiago FL Zortea, Clyde W. Fraisse and Renan Mendes, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Seasonal climate variability is one of the most important factors affecting agricultural production in the USA. The AgroClimate is decision support system and was designed and implemented as a partnership with the Cooperative State Extension Service. The system aims to aid agricultural producers, extension agents, forest managers, crop consultants, and policy makers to make decisions related to climate variability. It has an important role because climate and weather data are only useful when it is transformed into information, and there is a benefit from its use. However, the information accessible in the website is localized where weather stations are available bringing difficulties for decision makers located in between stations or in states with no freely available weather data. The main goal of this study is making AgroClimate tools more useful providing grid based information. The specific objectives include the use RTMA (Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis) weather data, which is a grid formatted data provided by NOAA, to calculate ARID (Agricultural Reference for Drought), GDD (growing degree days), chill hours accumulations, and SAS (Strawberry Advisory System) values for the Southeast USA. Hourly RTMA data is freely available in a grib format and using the TKDEGRIB software it is converted to shape files containing weather data. The data are processed using R programming language and each one of the tools is calculated in a grid format. The output of these processes is a daily map for each tool with the values for the Southeast USA. These daily maps can be used by decision makers to determine whether or not drought is affecting crops, if fungicide should be applied or the chill and heat units accumulated during the season. Also, the maps can be compared with historical or previous years' conditions to determine how the current year differ from the expected.