Weather station performance: a strategy of ‘continuous monitoring’

Weather station performance: a strategy of ‘continuous monitoring’

More than 20,000 Sencrop weather stations are currently installed around the world; the great majority in Europe. Temperature, humidity, rainfall ... the quality of the data is a priority when faced with the vicissitudes of the weather.

‘The frosty spells of the past few weeks have really brought home how important the weather is to farmers. At Sencrop, we try to support them as best we can at these critical times for their farms,’ emphasises Martin Deuez, who is in charge of the quality of Sencrop weather stations.

Giving access to high-quality weather data is at the heart of Sencrop’s mission. Today, thousands of farms are equipped with one or several Sencrop weather stations - 20,000 altogether. A large number of these will have been subject to cold snaps in recent months. Besides temperatures, which dominate the news after a continuous and sometimes fatal frost, other weather parameters are equally crucial. The wind, for example, which has been very much in evidence since early spring, is slowing down the work of some farmers. Muck spreading is prohibited by the Rural and Maritime Fishing Code if the wind gets to 19 km/h.

Concentrating on quality

Martin Deuez is pretty much the guardian angel of Sencrop weather stations. That doesn’t stop him from mistreating them to make sure they’re working well.

‘Yes, we run a lot of tests in collaboration with certified laboratories. We check their resistance to salt, for stations installed near the sea, as well as to phytosanitary products used in the fields. We also test how well they work after a fall,’ details the weather instrument expert.

And what about the quality of the sensors themselves? ‘The most durable you can get!’ responds the engineer, speaking with passion of his daily work. ‘Our stations are capable of resisting wide variations in temperature and all weathers,’ he assures us. Whether skies are stormy or blue, the specialist assures us that the data given by Sencrop weather stations ‘are excellent in terms of readings. That’s the challenge of our work: making sure our weather stations are tough, without losing any performance.’

Reliability, analysis and performance: the pillars of Sencrop quality

Although Sencrop uses certain standard components to measure the daily weather conditions, engineers at the Lille start-up don’t hesitate to supplement their products’ reliability and quality with additional sensors.

‘We use the Davis brand of gauges to measure rainfall and wind speed. We have improved this product, which already performed very well, by adding more sensors, notably to record temperature and humidity,’ explains the engineer.

The goal? ‘To improve reliability and data, and one day to be able to mitigate any breakdown of one of these instruments.’ Because once installed, the Sencrop teams watch over all these thousands of weather stations, which are exposed to the full force of wind and lashing rain. ‘During the winter we monitor the stations to verify their data,’ Martin Deuez adds. This is an essential step that Sencrop undertakes annually as part of their support to the farmers they equip. In a recent example,

‘before the big frost we had this spring, we contacted our clients and analysed their stations, which allowed us to identify any anomalies that would have caused concern during the frosty period. We had to intervene quickly to change the machines so that our clients could work with as little disruption as possible. We were pro-active, swiftly replacing the few devices that showed anomalies,’ recounts the engineer.

Stations monitored 24/7

To go further, the man in charge of data at Sencrop, Anicet Bart, confirms that ‘we provide follow-up throughout the life of each weather station.’ This is true daily monitoring, ‘allowing us to detect any anomalies by comparing weather data from neighbouring stations.’ And that’s not all! Battery level, network quality, consistency between the various weather data ... all these things play an equal part in the daily checks run by the Sencrop teams. A strategy of ‘continuous monitoring’.

In addition, farmers who are equipped with several weather stations are provided with a tool to check on their ‘fleet’. ‘If a rain gauge is blocked with a leaf, our client will see it straight away.’ When faced with the vagaries of the weather, a reliable weather station remains the farmer’s best friend.

By Kévin Floury