Weather & Soil Monitoring Insights for Fruit & Vegetable Growers
Back in January, our Davis Instruments team conducted a survey of over 120 farmers, growers, winemakers, gardeners, and homesteaders across North America to quantify the state of weather challenges within agriculture and benchmark adoption of weather and environmental monitoring technologies among growers. The results of that report can be found here.
To provide more targeted insights to our AgInsider audience and beyond, our analytics team dove back into the data to provide focused segment reports for fruit growers and vegetable farmers.
You can get your own free copy of either the Fruit Growers’ Report or the Vegetable Farmers’ Report here:
Top 5 insights & lessons learned from our fruit & veggie reports
Insight 1: Fruit growers are feeling the pain of climate change
Our survey found that 76% of fruit farmers express concern about the effects of climate change on agriculture, compared to 63% of veggie farmers and 61% of all respondents. That elevated concern makes sense, as 46% of the fruit growers we spoke to say severe weather cost them more than $10K in 2022. Just 25% of the veggie farmers we spoke to experienced weather-related losses of that scale over the same term.
Insight 2: Improved water resource management must outpace drought
78% of fruit growers say they’re affected by drought, with 39% calling it their single biggest weather challenge. 71% of vegetable farmers surveyed agreed drought was a challenge for them, with 42% saying it’s the biggest weather-related issue.
Our research suggests fruit farmers are well ahead of their veggie-growing colleagues when it comes to addressing those challenges using technology. 51% of fruit farmers we spoke to use weather and soil monitoring to inform their irrigation practices and use of water resources, compared to only 38% of veggie growers. As water becomes even more precious in coming years, understanding exactly where and when to allocate resources will be key to complying with water use targets and making the most of each drop of water.
Insight 3: Weather and soil monitoring data are severely underutilized across agriculture
Growers can use weather data to calculate growing degree days for crops, helping them measure progress toward harvest at a granular level and providing clear milestones for when certain pests, fungus, and other problems are likely to rear their ugly heads. Unfortunately, only 21% of the fruit growers and 25% of the vegetable farmers we spoke to are using stations and sensors to calculate GDD.
Similarly, our survey found that only 21% of vegetable farmers and 27% of fruit growers use weather and soil monitoring data to inform pest management. That looks like a major missed opportunity when you consider that 61% of fruit growers and 75% of veggie farmers consider increased pests and fungi a top-two way new weather challenges are eating into profits. By leveraging weather stations to calculate GDD, growers can get ahead of pests much more effectively.
Another example of major underutilization was the fact that only 13% of fruit growers and veggie farmers are using sensors to optimize fertilization. A whopping 88% of the vegetable farmers we surveyed said that the rising cost of fertilizer and seeds is a top three challenge, which means using those resources better and in a more data-driven way is more important than ever. By tracking soil moisture, rainfall, temperature, humidity, and wind, growers can understand when their fields need fertilizer, when they’ll be receptive to it, and how to prevent precious fertilizer from running off and causing pollution.
Insight 4: Increasingly severe weather is exacerbating other agricultural challenges
In the world of agriculture, severe weather translates to more than just grey days. In our survey, worker safety, increased pests, and damage to equipment and facilities all outpaced their ranking as known challenges when it came to generating financial loss. That means that these challenges may actually be growing faster than the agriculture industry understands.
By acknowledging the ways those challenges are related to and interconnected with the weather instead of viewing them as disparate challenges, growers of every scale can improve their results in the field and protect their financial investments better.
Insight 5: All farmers and growers can strengthen their harvests with a few tweaks.
The major theme of our 2023 AEM State of Weather Challenges Report was that every segment of the agriculture industry has room to grow when it comes to weather resilience. Our data indicates that about 80% of all farmers and growers have at least one weather station or soil sensor node on their property, but beyond traditional weather measurement and tracking, very few people are extracting maximum value from their existing investment in weather tech.
If you’re a grower of any sort who’s looking to protect your finances, maximize your harvest, and build a relationship with the weather that makes you feel empowered, not helpless, a Davis Instruments agriculture specialist can help you take the next step forward.
Whether you’re looking to start using weather monitoring technology for the first time on your farm or want to get more insights out of the stations and sensors you’ve already bought, our team knows how to help growers embrace precision agriculture.
Learn how EnviroMonitor can help track site-specific weather and environmental conditions.
In the face of escalating environmental risks, AEM is the essential source for insights on weather, climate, lightning, floods, wildfires, water management, and more.
Learn more about AEM and all of our solutions here.