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Weather News: Weather SMS on Mobile Phones to Help Farmers.

Madurai: The automatic weather monitoring stations established in the district five months ago have begun to do their job. During a press tour, district collector L Subramanian said to reporters, farmers now receive weather alerts as SMS on their mobile phones. These small weather stations were established in 13 blocks in the district, each station costing Rs6.5 lakh.

The weather stations are connected to Agro Climatic Research Centre at Tamil Nadu Agriculture University and they are situated in agricultural blocks. They have a range of 20km and generate hourly reports on local weather. Collector said, Farmers receive SMS on the weather status Based on the daily report. As many as 2, 47,050 farmers have registered under this scheme and receive SMS on their mobile phones.

The weather stations study nine parameters- air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, soil moisture, soil temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, atmospheric pressure, and leaf wetness. These are important parameters for farmers, said Agricultural officials.

They said that when the humidity is high, they can reduce the amount of fertilisers or expect more pest attacks when the air temperature starts to drop.

A farming community leader from the district, M Pandian said, "The only problem is that the alerts are in English most of the time and our farmers don't understand the language. Weather alert SMS could be sent in Tamil."

District collector also said each block has five assistant agriculture officers, they take out field visits every week. They have to maintain a travel journal to log their trips and that log has to be approved by the joint director of agriculture.

He said "During their trips, the officials explain the idea of weather alerts and counsel farmers to adopt the best practices. The automatic weather stations and the field visits by officials help the farmers and we hope it will yield rich dividends in coming days."