Weather Station Maintenance Guide
Keep your weather station at optimum performance to ensure precise and accurate NEWA tool results.
The quality of the weather data collected and delivered via NEWA is highly valued for crop production and IPM forecast applications. Maintain your weather station in good working condition according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for optimum data integrity. Below are tips for relative humidity and temperature sensors, precipitation (rain) gauges, leaf wetness sensors, wind speed anemometers, wind direction weather vanes, and solar radiation sensors. For details on weather variables and data quality control, visit About Weather Stations . If putting up a new weather station, visit Placement Guide.
Routinely inspect your weather station to make sure all sensors are clean, free of debris and in good working condition. Periodically clean the solar panels that power the battery with an alcohol wipe, but if none are available use a soft, clean, damp cloth especially after spraying near the weather station.
At least once per year, inspect cables and make certain mounting brackets, poles, posts, etc. are stable, vertical and sound and the instrument is securely fastened. Jostling during strong winds can affect radio transmission of data and tipping bucket rain gauges.
Sometimes, spiders or other insects will make nests inside of the support pole and radiation shield. To prevent this, cover the holes with duct tape or silicone sealer. DO NOT seal the Temp/RH shield.
Protect weather instruments, sensors and cables from pruning, spraying and harvesting activities that may damage the sensors, cut cables, or cause weather stations to lean. It is a good idea to get the serial number off of the part you are replacing, before contacting your vendor for a replacement, to ensure you receive the correct version of the sensor.
Ask your weather station vendor about sensor calibration requirements. It is best to calibrate weather stations about every two years. Contact your weather station vendor for instructions on sending the station in for calibration. Plan a good time to take out the station for maintenance, usually in late fall, winter, or early spring.
Contact your vendor
Onset Data Loggers
Matt Sharp, Strategic Sales Representative
Environmental & Agricultural Monitoring
Brad Luscombe, Manager
Support, Sales, and Service
Relative humidity (RH) and temperature sensors
These sensors are delicate instruments that should be periodically checked, according to the manufacturer's recommendations, to make certain they are accurate. Compare the readings of the weather station sensors with a calibrated thermometer or with another nearby weather station. During dewy mornings or rainy weather, low RH readings indicate a sensor malfunction. Contact the station manufacturer to replace bad or broken sensors.
Precipitation (rain) gauges
Leaves, moss, algae, pollen, and debris will cause clogging of the tipping bucket screen. The tipping bucket should be cleaned routinely (at least 1-2 times per year). The surrounding environment will affect how often it should be cleaned. For example, where weather stations are placed in an open area near an orchard, vineyard or woods, make sure that tipping bucket rain gauges are not subject to filling with leaf litter from adjacent areas.
Start by turning off the weather station. Loosen the 4 screws holding the bucket to the base of the rain gauge and twist counter-clockwise to remove it. Straighten the cotter pin legs holding the screen, pull the cotter pin out, remove the screen, and clear the drain hole. You can clean the collector and tipping bucket with warm soapy water if necessary. Make sure you rinse it well afterwards. When putting it back together, if the cotter pin legs hang down inside the bucket collector, they may interfere with the tipper mechanism. The cotter pin legs MUST be bent up so they don’t interfere with the tipper. Remember to turn the weather station back on after cleaning.
Wasps may build nests in tipping bucket rain gauges. A small piece of Vapona® strip may be used as a deterrent.
If improperly mounted, the weather station may be jostled during strong winds and this may cause the tipping bucket arm to tip and record a small amount of precipitation during dry weather.
If the rain gauge continues to malfunction after cleaning, it is possible the reed switch is bad. In this situation, contact your weather station vendor or refer to the Read this NEWA blog, Accuracy of Rain Gauge Measurements, for more information.
Leaf wetness sensors
NEWA suggests that you place plastic grid type leaf wetness sensors facing north and angled 45 degrees from a horizontal orientation. If they are attached close to the weather station, this protects the sensor and cables from pruning, spraying and harvesting activities. Periodically check the plastic grid for cracks that would expose the metal wire grid. Contact the station manufacturer to replace any broken or cracked leaf wetness sensors.
Wind speed (anemometer)
The anemometer should spin freely and be free of debris of any kind. Periodically inspect the anemometer in strong wind conditions and calm conditions and check the data being recorded to make certain it is working correctly. Contact your station manufacturer for technical support or replacement.
Wind direction (wind vane)
The wind vane should be set to zero on due North in order for the readings to be accurate. Any time the weather station is moved or bumped, check the orientation of the wind vane relative to North. The wind vane should move freely and be free of debris of any kind.
The solar radiation sensor must be kept clean to ensure accurate readings. Clean the glass diffuser with a damp cloth. Replace the diffuser when it yellows (usually after several years of service). It is essential to have good solar radiation readings in order to run the apple carbohydrate thinning model. If your station does not appear in the selection list of stations for that model, the solar radiation data is out-of-range. Should this become an issue, contact the station manufacturer about sensor calibration or replacement.
Get a Weather Station
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NEWA is a partnership of land grant universities and grower associations. If you live in a partner state, you can buy a weather station for your farm and connect to NEWA.