The Mid North Mesonet and the Riverland & Mallee Mesonet were built specifically to combat agricultural pesticide spray drift. As of 2021, they are the only permanent networks which measure and publicly display the Vertical Temperature Difference (10m – 1m) to show the presence of a thermal inversion. Farmers should not spray during inversions in order to reduce spray drift.
They are further differentiated from many other networks, as they are one of the few which have been designed by both an expert meteorologist and local agriculturalists. The location of each tower has been chosen specifically, along with the high-resolution network spacing and the sensor placements upon the tower. The installed sensors represent the best available technology. In addition, the Mesonet Team is working behind the scenes with key industry players to be familiar with the most up-to-date science and expected future policy directions. If the spraying rules change to use other weather parameters, the Mesonet is already set-up and ready to adapt in ways that other networks are not.
The Mesonet will be a Tier 2 private weather network specifically suited to agricultural needs, with very similar attributes and requirements to that of the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) Tier 1 network. A large majority of all weather station networks outside the BoM would be considered Tier 3 systems. The BoM rarely takes external data for their internal use, but they have expressed interest in using COtL’s Mesonet data to help calibrate their forthcoming high-resolution (1.5km) regional modelling. As far as we know, no other weather network in Australia can make these claims.
The combined Mesonet is one of the largest agricultural weather station networks with over 70 ten-metre high sturdy towers. For the Riverland & Mallee, we partnered with a gold-standard supplier for equipment (Campbell Scientific Australia) to increase the robustness of the system and minimise interruptions or outages that can often plague these types of networks.
The Mesonet website works well on smart phones and in low internet areas. The website is also one of the few which shows real-time colour-coded maps with wind directions, as well as the option to drill down for each station for time histories of specific variables. The Mesonet data is useless if it can’t easily be accessed and interpreted by its users.
For these reasons, the Mesonet is arguably unique within Australia. As the Mesonet expands further, its reliability and usefulness will only increase with greater economies of scale.