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Improving and Sustaining the NEWA System 2011

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Project Leaders: Juliet Carroll, NYS IPM, Cornell University; Art DeGaetano, Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University.

Bradley Rickard, Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University; Deborah Breth, Lake Ontario Fruit Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension; Mike Fargione, Hudson Valley Fruit Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Abstract: The Network for Environment & Weather Applications (NEWA) system has a proven track record for saving grower's money, reducing pesticide use, improving IPM and crop production, and documenting crop insurance and risk management needs (Carroll et al 2011). NEWA provides a reliable flow of weather data that supports the implementation of pest, disease and crop forecasts (Agnello and Reissig, 2010). Growers using NEWA state that they reduced spray costs, on average, by $19,500 dollars per year and that they prevented crop losses, on average, of $256,000 dollars per year as a direct result of using NEWA pest forecast models (Carroll, 2007).

In a NEWA survey of NY growers (Carroll, 2007), we found the greatest impact of the system is making pest, disease and crop forecasts available online. This project, researching improvements to sustain NEWA, will result in increased use of forecast models which, in turn, help reduce the number of sprays applied, improve the timing of sprays, and thereby reduce risk to the environment and human health. NEWA pest forecasts have a positive impact on IPM practice: 99.2% of farmers using NEWA would recommend NEWA to other farmers.

These agricultural forecasts have the potential to save agricultural interests, especially apple farms, substantial money in crop production costs and eliminate unneeded, ineffectual pesticide use. A significant amount of research has been devoted to the development of forecast models; 27 are implemented on NEWA and, of these, 10 are for apple, including apple scab infection events, apple scab ascospore maturity, fire blight Cougar Blight, sooty blotch & flyspeck, obliquebanded leafroller, spotted tentiform leafminer, codling moth, plum curculio, oriental fruit moth, and apple maggot.

NEWA provides historical records of weather data, current data, and forecasts. Growers can access growing degree day accumulations and track cold temperatures, such as the frosts and freezes that occurred in May 2010. In addition, NEWA data supports research and development of new models like the highly successful apple carbohydrate utilization model to inform apple thinning sprays.

Extension educators will benefit from reliable weather data and forecast model outputs on NEWA that they can utilize in their extension newsletters, crop updates, and pest alerts. Crop consultants also benefit by improving their knowledge of when pests and diseases may be active, when to deploy traps, scout for primary infections, etc. Researchers benefit by having a source of weather data from agroecosystems that is available for use in their research programs.

Providing more accurate leaf wetness duration information in NEWA and utilizing this information in the models will improve the precision of the model results. Placing the daily "I need to know" information in the hands of apple growers with e-NEWA alerts will eliminate the need to dig several clicks down a website for the information and the subscriptions will help sustain the system and all its benefits. This project will lay the groundwork for full development of e-NEWA.