News  |   Challenges and Impacts  |   Projects  |   Economic impacts  |   Economy  |   Evaluations  |   Major issues  |   Partnership
Site Guide  |   Webview  |   Links  |   Contact us

Significance for food production

Agricultural activities are very sensitive to climate and weather conditions. An agricultural decision-maker can either be at the mercy of these natural factors or try to benefit from them. The only way to profit from natural factors is to take them into account and learn to know them as well as possible. Agrometeorological information, in practice mainly climatological data, is essential in planning agricultural production. The following decisions should not be made without knowing climate conditions: land use and management, selecting plants and breeds of animals, and crop production practices such as irrigation, pest and disease control and crop-weather relationships. The specific climate-related information needed is presented below:

Before giving recommendations about land use it is necessary to know the environmental conditions. Parameters required to quantify these conditions are the monthly or 10-day-period rainfall data, solar radiation, temperature and the climatological risks (frosts, hail etc.).

In order to select plant species or varieties, a prior agroclimatologic characterization is required. This is determined using weekly, daily and hourly temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, evaporation, wind speed, evapotranspiration and relative humidity.

To assess the suitability of an environment to animal production knowledge of the effects of radiation, wind, precipitation, temperature and relative humidity is essential.

For pest management and plant diseases the minimum weather data set required should consist of temperature and humidity or derived parameters such as accumulated heat or degree-days. Moisture (relative humidity, rainfall and wetness duration) is an essential variable in most plant disease prediction schemes and also for predicting outbreaks of some insect pests.
Real time meteorological information can also be effectively used in agricultural production process. The timing of different activities, e.g. sowing, ploughing, fertilizing and pest and disease control, should be done when weather conditions are most favorable. For example the spreading of pesticide will succeed if weather is moist and warm (not hot) and not very rainy or windy. Hay should be made before a period of several dry days so that the hay has enough time to dry. The harvesting of wheat is also most effective during a dry period. If the wheat is threshed while it is damp it becomes predisposed to damages. Although these examples concern agriculture in mild climates, the meaning of real-time meteorological information can be broadened to activities in the tropics as well.

Because climate conditions are different around the world, the importance of climatological information and real-time meteorological information is emphasized differently. In Finland, for example, real-time weather information is more important than in central parts of Africa because the weather in Finland is less predictable. In fact, it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the importance of climatological information in Finland because this information is considered self-evident. On the other hand, the climatological knowledge is often insufficient in the developing countries. The importance of climate, as an agricultural aspect, is even more crucial if the geographic situation of the developing countries and the global warming of the atmosphere are taken into account. If the climate of these regions becomes even more warm and dry, food production can be a tremendous problem. This is why climate-related knowledge should also be promoted in developing countries.

Agrometeorological information can increase agricultural yield. The quality and quantity of agricultural production can be increased and production costs decreased, for example with more optimized use of fertilizers and pesticides. If climatological data is available, the probability of unfavourable meteorological phenomena can be calculated and the related risks estimated. With climatological data it is also possible to recognize bad weather conditions and to be more prepared to minimise the damage. Agricultural activities are weather-sensitive and it would be inefficient not to use climatological and meteorological information.

Three examples of the successful utilization of meteorological information for the benefit of food production are presented.

See also Economic impacts

Contact us

FMI Weather and Climate  |   FMI Research  |   FMI Products and Services  |   FMI International Relations  |   FMI News  |   Contact FMI