STR Farms, run by father and son team Barry and Spencer Shouse, is an 11,000 acre fourth-generation farm near the village of Young, Saskatchewan. Located in the medium brown soil zone, Barry and Spencer grow a rotation of canola, cereals, peas and canary seed. In 2021, they used TELUS Agriculture Weather Stations on their farm for the first time. They “had a really good experience overall”, Spencer says, using the weather stations to help make in-season application decisions and gain a better understanding of how this year’s weather impacted their crops.
Spencer wanted to use multiple weather stations so he could monitor different parts of the farm in real-time as well as track seasonal weather events and patterns. Working closely with Decisive Farming Territory Manager Shawn Fisher, STR Farms had three weather stations installed in three different areas of the farm so he could keep tabs on three different crops — canola, durum and peas.
Using Weather Station information
When Spencer first got the weather stations set up, he felt as though there was a lot of information; it could’ve been overwhelming if not for the support he received from Shawn. “I worked with Shawn. He came in and explained a few different things and, for the most part, it all made sense,” Spencer says.
“With the weather station, it’s pretty easy to understand and you really get lots of useful information.”
In-Season Application and Timing
Spencer and Barry were able to use the weather station information to help them make decisions around in-crop applications and timing. With the weather stations located approximately six miles apart, Spencer could see just how different wind and moisture conditions could be in different areas of the farm. For example, one day Spencer had one station reporting a 25 km/h SW wind and another reporting a 30 km/h N wind. Having the ability to pull up current conditions on the app saved Spencer from driving 10 miles to a field to check the weather.
In addition to helping with day-to-day decisions, the weather stations helped Spencer and Barry make some larger decisions around in-crop applications. After meeting with their agronomist and observing limited disease pressure, Spencer and Barry were hesitant to spray fungicide on their peas. They struggled with the decision as fungicide is typically a routine application that’s done every year.
Spencer realized this was a great opportunity to use information from their weather stations. Using the TELUS Agriculture Weather Station app, they pulled up information on leaf wetness — what they found solidified their decision to not spray fungicide on their peas. Spencer shared that it was very helpful to have another source of information to back up what their in-field observations suggested, and the decision ultimately saved them thousands of dollars.
“After it was all said and done, I think it was definitely the right decision.”
There’s no question that 2021 was a dry year across much of Western Canada. Spencer shares that there was a four inch difference in accumulated rainfall between the furthest east and furthest west weather stations, which is considerable in any year, but remarkably so during a drought like 2021.
Spencer says his farm had previously experienced years with less rainfall but with better looking crops. Using the information captured by the weather stations, he realized that even though they received more rain at times this season, the days following those rain events were hot and windy — conditions that drove evaporation before the ground had a chance to fully absorb the precipitation. “It was pretty interesting to see that even though we are getting these rains, it wasn’t very efficient because it was just all dried out right away.” says Spencer.
A Good Investment
Spencer has been very pleased to have TELUS Weather Stations on his farm this year. He felt the information from the weather stations was easy to understand and proved valuable on the farm. Spencer and Barry used many features throughout the season: leaf wetness for fungicide decisions, soil probes for monitoring soil moisture content, the rain gauge to track precipitation and the wind meter to assess current conditions without having to drive across the farm. For anyone looking for local and timely weather information for their farm, Spencer says he would recommend the TELUS Agriculture Weather Station.
“It’s a good investment for just about every farm.”