Syngenta Crop Protection of Greensboro, N.C., has donated $2,000 to the Florida Automated Weather Network, or FAWN.
The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences maintains the network of 35 weather sites statewide. They can be accessed 24 hours a day via the Web at http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu or toll free at (866) 754-5732.
In addition to precipitation and temperature, the stations also provide information on cold protection; evapotranspiration; chill accumulation with specific models for blueberries, strawberries and peaches; and citrus irrigation, which includes an ET-based scheduler model.
The network has an annual budget of about $475,000, of which IFAS provides $150,000 in the form of two full-time and one part-time employees and a small expense fund, says Rick Lusher, FAWN director. The remainder of the funding comes from outside sources and mostly with the bulk from water districts and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The university already has warned that it may cut the one part-time position and expense fund, which total about $35,000. The state ag department has said it won’t provide funding for fiscal year 2010, leaving the network with an additional $50,000 gap, Lusher says.
In the past, the network looked to the private sector for sponsorship of about $20,000 annually.
“But we are hopeful we can increase this as companies, trade associations and individuals become aware of our need,” he says.