NEWA is a partnership of New York State Integrated Pest Management, Northeast Regional Climate Center, and Cornell University

Weather Station Placement Guide

Proper weather station placement on your farm keeps weather data flowing seamlessly into NEWA.

The weather data collected and delivered via NEWA is valued for crop production and IPM forecast applications. The correct set-up of the weather station will insure that the highest quality data is collected on-site. This page has information about optimal weather station placement. NEWA’s Maintenance Guide page has information on maintaining a weather station, which is equally important to the continuing quality of the weather data.

Farm locations vary to such a degree that it is not possible to meet a formal set of guidelines in all locations. However, as much as is feasible at each location, the placement of weather stations should come as close as possible to meeting National Weather Service (NWS) and weather station manufacturer specifications. Visit About Weather Stations and Buy a Weather Station for vendor contact information and additional details.

Site Considerations

Variations in siting NEWA weather stations may result from the following:

  • objectives of the user
  • commodity type (i.e. orchard vs. field)
  • farm structures
  • terrain
  • cable length limits
  • radio frequency limits
  • data transmission method (cellular, Wi-Fi, etc.)

For orchards, vineyards, and fields it is optimal to place the weather station in an open area and not within the planting. If placement is near the edge of the orchard, vineyard or field, make sure that tree or trellis height is well below the wind and rain gauges. Protect weather instruments from spray applications because this may damage the sensors or cause erroneous readings.

Sensor considerations

Official NWS regulations on siting temperature and precipitation sensors

Temperature sensors

  • The sensor should be 4 to 6 feet, preferably 5 feet, above the ground.
  • The ground over which the radiation shield is located should be typical of the surrounding area.
  • Do not install the sensor on a steep slope or in a sheltered hollow unless it is typical of the area or unless data from that type of site is desired.
  • The shield should be no closer than four times the height of any obstruction (tree, fence, building, etc.)
  • The sensor should be at least 100 feet from any paved or concrete surface.

Rain gauges

  • The tipping bucket must be installed as level as possible.
  • The exposure of a rain gauge is very important for obtaining accurate measurements.
  • Gauges should be located away from isolated obstructions such as trees and buildings, which may deflect precipitation due to erratic turbulence.
  • To avoid wind and resulting turbulence problems, do not locate gauges in wide open spaces or on elevated sites, such as the tops of buildings.
  • The best site for a gauge is one in which it is protected in all directions, such as in an opening in a grove of trees. The height of the protection should not exceed twice its distance from the gauge.
  • As a general rule, the windier the gauge location is, the greater the precipitation error will be.

NEWA guidelines

Rain gauges

The surrounding environment will affect how often it will need cleaning, so make sure the tipping bucket rain gauge is not subject to filling with leaf litter from adjacent areas. Make certain the rain gauge is securely in place. If improperly mounted, the weather station may be jostled during strong winds, which can cause the tipping bucket arm to tip and erroneously record precipitation during dry weather.

Leaf wetness sensors

Place leaf wetness sensors in the open area with the weather station. This protects the sensor and cables from pruning, spraying and harvesting activities. Leaf wetness sensors of the plastic grid type should be placed facing north and angled 45 degrees from horizontal. Most are already positioned this way on the weather station unit.

Solar radiation

The weather station should not be subject to shade during any part of the day, otherwise incorrect solar radiation readings will result. Always place it in an open area where it will receive sunlight for the full daylength duration.

First and foremost, follow manufacturer guidelines wherever possible. As anomalies are identified, adjustments in siting or shielding can be made. Often these anomalies are found by comparison to other sensors placed on the site or to other weather stations in the vicinity.

Page updated April 2020 by J. Carroll and D. Olmstead

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