By Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
LIND, Wash. – Staff at the Washington State University Dryland Research Station at Lind earned kudos for logging 100 years of official weather data that helps farmers and scientists understand the past and prepare for the future.
The National Weather Service presented the station with the “100-Year Honored Institution Award,” for the century of observations made at Lind.
Farm manager Bruce Sauer and utility worker Brian Fode accepted the award at Lind Station’s centennial celebration earlier this month. The research station (http://lindstation.wsu.edu/) was founded through a land donation by Adams County farmers in 1915.
Come rain or shine, Sauer and Fode measure weather conditions at Lind every afternoon, seven days a week, year-round. They check precipitation, wind and evaporation – factors that matter to farmers working some of the state’s driest land.
Accurate and official weather data, recorded every day of the year, is an important tool for Lind researchers working to improve dryland farming, said station director Bill Schillinger.
“We need to know, historically, what we can expect,” he said.
Historic weather data allows Lind researchers to predict grain yields under given conditions. They’ve gained understanding of the importance of timing for precipitation, for example, learning that a given amount of rain occurring in May and early June is more important for wheat than that same amount of water stored in the soil during the winter.
“When we do experiments at Lind and we can tie it to accurate National Weather Service data, it really strengthens our research,” Schillinger said. “Being able to accurately gauge the correlation between grain yield and the timing and amount of precipitation is really key.”
“As we look at climate change, these 100 years of records from places like Lind are invaluable,” said John Livingston, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s Spokane, Wash., office who presented the award.
The Lind station is just one in the National Weather Service’s (http://www.weather.gov/) cooperative network of observers, which has logged weather data for nearly 150 years. It is one of the oldest sites in the Inland Northwest to provide long-term data.