NDAWN Provides Valuable Information for Ag Producers

Current and historical weather information, soil temperature data, growing degree day models, disease and insect forecasting models, soil moisture data and a whole host of other agricultural applications are just a small part of what is known as the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network or NDAWN. 

This network of 161 stations distributed across North Dakota and border regions of surrounding states is part of NDSU’s North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.  

The stations monitor and record local weather conditions throughout the state and disseminate timely, detailed, accurate information through an array of summaries and innovative displays on the NDAWN website. 

“NDAWN was designed to provide weather data for the development of agricultural models,” says Daryl Ritchison, NDAWN director. “Producers can make management decisions using models that predict future crop and pest development based on recent weather conditions.” 

The models can warn of impending disease or insect infestations so producers can apply pesticides at the optimum time for maximum efficacy to improve crop yields and profits. 

"We use the NDAWN stations almost every day throughout the growing season for many reasons,” says Brandon Roller, an agricultural producer from Hope, N.D.  

“During planting season we use the soil temperature data to help decide if we should be planting yet or not,” Roller continues. “During spraying we are using it for wind direction, wind speed and also air temperature inversion warnings. Then in the fall we watch the soil temperatures again to see when we can start applying ammonia. We also use them to monitor the rainfall amounts."  

In the fall of 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded NDAWN a $6.4 million five-year grant to upgrade and build new stations across North Dakota.  

“The one climate element that we have the least amount of data on is the moisture content in snow,” says Ritchison. “It’s not the depth of snow that matters, it’s the moisture content in the snow. Measuring winter moisture content is a critical predicter of spring flooding.”  

A large portion of the grant will be dedicated to measuring winter moisture content in areas where such data was previously unavailable. 



Daryl Ritchison, 701-231-8209, daryl.ritchison@ndsu.edu 

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