When your job involves being outside, especially in the agricultural business, climate and weather are your most significant daily concerns. Both seasonal and regional variability in weather directly influence your crop yield potential, and should be planned for as much as possible.
You can control your procedures, vehicle maintenance, and harvesting schedule, but you can't control the weather. When a nebulous natural force is the biggest threat to your business, accurate forecasting is vital to help you make important decisions.
While some people can 'smell it in the wind', the way most modern farmers get their forecasts is through smartphone weather apps. Convenient, yes. But not all weather apps are made alike, and some choices are definitely better than others.
There are over 100 weather apps in the Apple iStore alone, and many phones come pre-installed with a weather app, but which one is right for your agricultural business? We've done some research and have come up with the top 4 weather apps and reasons why they were selected.
4. Elders Weather App - 2 stars
For Australia specific weather, Elders is a great place to start with over 2,000 Australian locations to choose from. Farmers need only to download the app and select a town they're close to in order to start receiving their weather information.
Available for both Android and iPhones, the versatile app offers detailed weather data including the usual 7 day forecast and 48 hour breakdown, historical weather data, tides and the moon phase, Delta-T, dew points, sunrise/sunset, winds, and radar maps.
Paid membership provides longer forecast periods, extra radar layers, and lightning information. Unfortunately, they appear to be experiencing some difficulties with ads and payment and will hopefully fix their bugs soon.
3. BOM Weather App - 3.5 stars
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology not only provides great weather information, it provides it directly to your phone through both iTunes and Google Play. Reliable, localized and quite detailed, the BOM weather app claims to give you the most accurate weather information as you move around, and reviewers agree!
The usual features include the day broken into 3-hour segments, wind, humidity, rainfall, temperature and 'feels like' temperature. It also offers a zoom-friendly rain radar that can be paused, detailed weather warnings and live updates.
The most acclaimed feature is the ability to see your current location weather with a single tap and save your favourite locations to check on quickly from anywhere. Although rated 3.5 stars, BOM is the most downloaded weather app in Australia being the most trusted source of weather forcasts for Aussie farmers for a number of years.
2. Weather Zone - 4.5 stars
Coined "Australia's favourite weather app", Weather Zone is well trusted in the agricultural business. Users are very impressed by its level of information and ability to provide real-time local weather.
This handy app also makes use of the BoM forecasts for accurate meteorological data, along with their own suit of custom features including a radar and lightning tracker, a synoptic map of Australia with rain areas and amounts, UV rating, pollen reports, fire danger, and unlimited favourite locations. As a special treat for farmers, it also includes an almanac.
For the savvy farmer on the go, you no longer need to be able to smell rain on the wind or watch the cows to know when a storm is on the way. Each of these apps has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to accurate, useful, and detailed weather data.
Wheatbelt Steel put together this list in the hopes that you will weigh the pros and cons of each and decide on the weather app that works best for you and your business. With advanced weather data beamed straight to your smartphone, you may not be able to control the weather but you can always plan for it.
1. Willy Weather - 4.7 stars
The Willy Weather app has an attractive and comprehensive feature set and is increasingly popular in both major app stores. Just to start with, Willy Weather goes above and beyond for Australian localization, offering over 17,000 locations including beaches, rivers, parks, lakes, and islands.
Making use of the BoM and satellite, Willy can offer you everything from the BOM Weather app and a lot more. This app has integrated the BOM radar data with a Google maps interface, allowing you to easily scan around to get a better idea of what you'll see coming over the horizon.
Other neat features include tides, winds, an hourly UV index, rainfall and swell height for beaches, sunrise/sunset, and BoM warnings. It also offers fine-tuned forecasts for specific location coordinates.