Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET) Assists Crop Decisions

Enhance Economic Opportunities for Agricultural Producers
Research Year: 
2004
Issue: 

The Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET) was developed in 1987 to provide weather data and information in near real time to the state's producers of agricultural and horticultural crops. Properly tailored weather information can assist with important management decisions related to variety selection, planting dates, crop assessment, pest control, irrigation and harvest.

Description of Action: 

A network of 28 automated weather stations was established in Arizona to supply meteorological data from important agricultural production areas and selected urban locations. Meteorological data obtained by the stations are transferred to a Tucson-based data processing center each night where computers process the data into a variety of informational formats. AZMET data and reports are made available to the public free of charge via three Internet web pages.

AZMET expanded the turf water management program to three northern Arizona cities in 2003. Weather stations were installed in Flagstaff, Prescott and Payson, and a new site was developed to disseminate information on landscape irrigation to residents of northern Arizona.

Impact: 

AZMET is now widely accepted as an important (and often the only) source of meteorological information pertaining to the production of agricultural and horticultural crops in Arizona. Use of AZMET information continues at a high rate; users accessed AZMET web pages in excess of 173,000 times in 2004.

Crop Production: Perhaps the most important impact of AZMET in production agriculture has been its ability to provide reliable information on heat units which are used to 1) time planting and harvest dates of horticultural crops such as melons and sweet corn; 2) predict pest development; and 3) monitor general crop development. AZMET plays an integral role in the success of the Arizona Cotton Advisory Program by providing weekly updates on heat unit accumulation, crop water use, and current and projected weather condition; AZMET also provides daily updates on the potential for heat stress, which can significantly reduce fruit retention and yield of cotton.

Water Use/Irrigation Management: AZMET provides data on evapotranspiration (ET) which can be used to estimate the water use of vegetation. Working in conjunction with personnel affiliated with the Ft. Mohave Indian Reservation, AZMET ET information is now used to schedule irrigations on more than 20,000 acres of cotton and alfalfa in western Arizona. AZMET generates daily turf water use reports for the Phoenix area and distributes this information to the public via a turf water management web page, email and automated fax transfer system. Sixteen large turf facilities ( with more than 10 acres in turf; mostly golf courses and parks) receive this information via email or fax daily. The turf web page was accessed in excess of 10,000 times in 2004. AZMET also generates a lawn watering guide which is published daily in major newspapers in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council; Arizona Grain Research & Promotion Council; Arizona Department of Water Resources; City of Phoenix; United States Bureau of Reclamation; Station sponsors: irrigation districts, NRCDs, power districts, commodity organizations, etc.

Conact Name: 
Paul W. Brown
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science

429 Shantz Bldg #38, Tucson, AZ 85721

Tel: 520-621-1319, FAX: 520-621-9796