Irrigation / Evapotranspiration (ET) Software Tools Update

By John Panuska and Amanda Gevens

For growers using ET tools to schedule irrigation you have likely experienced issues with the ET data service. The reason for the service interruption is the unexpected failure of the system software following a campus power outage in mid-June. After several failed attempts to restart the 30+ year old system it appears to have found the end of its useful life. Luckily, anticipating this date was near, development work began on a new replacement system about a year ago and the good news is that the new service is now operational. So what was initially planned as a testing season has now become a replacement season for the new Ag. Weather Data Service.

In addition to the software failure, staff changes in the Department of Soil Science, where the system has been historically housed and maintained, have resulted in the loss of an in-house programmer to maintain the system. We have therefore been working with a private sector software developer to develop the new Ag. Weather System and will likely rely on this vender for future upgrades and maintenance. So to sum it up it’s been a challenging year for ET tools at UW.

The user interface for the new Ag. Weather tool is identical to old system interface. The new system can accessed at: Select the Wisconsin and Minnesota link. To retrieve ET values, you simply enter the latitude and longitude for your pivot and date range for which you want ET data, press the Get Data Series button and the values will appear on the screen. We intend to continue working to restore more functionality to the site over the next several months and retire the old system this fall.

For those growers using the WISP irrigation scheduler you may interested to know that there is a new version of WISP (Version 2.0) being tested this summer with plans to upgrade the existing WISP 1.1.0 this winter. The look and feel of version 2.0 has not changed, however the multiple field grouping functionality has been restored and the authentication process has been simplified and no longer uses Google. You simply enter your email address and a password. The password is independent of the old version so you can reuse that password if wish. If you forget your password the system will email you a link to reset it and the WISP 2.0 also appears to be running faster than its predecessor. The software upgrade was also needed for better security. Look for the WISP 2.0 next spring.