The State of Florida is known as Snowbirds paradise. With warm, tropical year-around climate, the Sunshine State is often revered as a safe harbor for those seeking shelter from frosty temperatures up north. According to NPR, this is the third year in a row in which “the lower two-thirds of the contiguous U.S. are likely to see warmer-than-average temperatures.”
Despite the forecast for warmer-than-expected Winter weather, Florida farmers take winter months seriously. Though warm weather is expected this season, many of Florida’s staple crops require temperature monitoring to keep them from freezing and potentially dying due to sudden declines in temperature.
The Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) is a University of Florida extension network of automated weather stations that gathers data from around 42 locations in the state that provide Florida growers calculations and decision-making tools. With the use of Txtsignal’s scheduled mass text messages, FAWN provides farmers with Freeze Alert – instant information about forecasted weather that could make or break their yield for the season.
According to FAWN’s Project Manager, Rick Lusher, “during the winter, there are crops in Florida that require freeze protection and the main solution for freeze protection is the use of water.”
While it may seem counter-intuitive to water crops when it’s cold outside, “running sprinklers during cold nights causes a layer of ice to form over plant surfaces, which insulates the plants and keeps them right around freezing temperature, which is ideal for them” Lusher said. “Any lower than freezing will damage crops.”
The Freeze Alert tool automates the process of checking the forecast, monitoring which crops require freeze protection, assessing freezing temperatures for those crops and monitoring when to turn on and turn off crop-watering mechanisms.
When farmers enroll in the Freeze Alert text message system, FAWN provides them with tools to help them determine their crops’ critical minimum temperature (the temperature at which cold air will damage crops) by sending them four text notifications per freeze-event two of which indicate when temperatures decline and two that signal when the temperature begins to rise.
“If the forecast for the night is a temperature the grower is concerned about, they might decide to turn sprinklers on, so we help them narrow down the optimal hours to run their systems without overusing water or risking little to no damage to their crops” Lusher said.
“Research that UF has done finds that growers can save an average of two hours of water-use per cold event with this decision making tool, which can be substantial for the many thousands of acres of agriculture in Florida” Lusher said.
The very nature of farming requires growers to be out in the field, which are often located miles away from farmers’ homes or offices. When farmers have to monitor multiple fields, the Freeze Alert system is especially vital.
“The Freeze Alert system allows farmers to be away from the computer and out in the field while still receiving alerts that indicate when they need to activate and deactivate their watering systems” Rick said.
With thousand-acre crops, overuse of water can be both expensive and wasteful. With Freeze Alert, growers can cut watering-time down to an average of four to six hours from eight to 10 hours, saving them thousands of dollars and time spent away from the fields.
The use of FAWN’s Freeze Alert text message system helps farmers protect their crops and leverage the most up-to-date information tailored to their crops’ specific needs and requirements while saving farmers time, money and water.
Txtsignal ensures FAWN’s Freeze Alert system subscribers speed of delivery of text notifications with the convenience of instant message receipt. Rather than refreshing a web page on the Internet, txtsignal allows recipients to access pertinent information instantly and without Internet connection. This is especially important for farmers and growers, considering the fact that their fields may be located in low-to-no signal areas that internet apps couldn’t work within. In addition, Txtsignal works with any phone at all. Whether a farmer or grower has the newest smartphone or early flip-phone, they can receive information at the push of a button.
For many of Txtsignal’s partners, like FAWN, other benefits of using their system includes the ability to use application program interfaces (API) integration, which allows FAWN and other users to programmatically communicate with their publics by sending messages.
While most companies consider the possibility of creating an app for their services, the truth of the matter is that app development is both costly and time-consuming. Compared with developing and maintaining an app, Txtsignal is both time-saving and budget-friendly.