With the help of the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG), research was conducted into how weather information is used to make on-farm decisions - what are the most important pieces of information at each time in the season and how does it inform the decisions that need to be made? The user interface design reflected the specificity of weather information for use in agriculture, with a focus on calculated information such as Delta-T, Spray Risk and Fire Danger Index as well as the standard temperature, humidity and wind speed measurements.
As farmers are generally looking up weather information multiple times a day on a mobile phone rather than a computer, the layout was optimised for viewing on a mobile phone, and also specifically for viewing with screen magnification turned up (as we know many older farmers need glasses to read and often don't carry them), and under conditions of glare and direct sunlight.
Square V took on a technical leadership role for the project, liaising with the hardware and firmware vendors to help troubleshoot issues and ensure that the project ran as smoothly as possible.
Research also showed that many on-farm weather stations are shared between multiple farmers in an area or with a farm's various consultants, usually just by sharing usernames and passwords for the viewing service. DataFarmer includes native sharing functionality to help with this, allowing each individual user to subscribe to a number of different weather stations near them, and allow or disallow individual requests to view information.
Many farmers also have multiple different types of on-farm weather stations, purchased at different times, with each requiring a separate website to view the data. To combat this issue, DataFarmer has grown over time to support weather stations and soil probes from a number of different telemetry companies including Mait, Wildeye/Outpost, Goanna, Observant, Sentek and Adcon.
DataFarmer also supports both short-term and long-term weather forecasts, providing short-term weather forecasting from either the Bureau of Meteorology ADFD or DTN, and long-term forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology ACCESS-S system.
DataFarmer can be access at www.datafarmer.com.au, and a mobile app is currently under development. DataFarmer also has a Wordpress widget for displaying weather station information within Wordpress sites that can be seen on the BCG homepage.