New director for key WSU weather service

WSU’s AgWeatherNet system has been growing rapidly in the last few years.

Professor Lav Khot was named interim director of AgWeatherNet with the goal of maintaining the momentum of that growth and increasing public-private partnerships. Khot takes over as director for Dave Brown, who initiated much of the growth.

Formal portrait of Lav Khot
Lav Khot

AgWeatherNet provides weather data and weather-related support tools to improve agricultural production, efficiency, and profitability.

“We want to make sure this high-quality data is collected and distributed to grower stakeholders so they can make informed decisions that benefit their operations and the state of Washington,” said Khot, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering and faculty in the Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems (CPAAS).

“The quality weather data will also help AgWeatherNet and other CAHNRS programs, such as the Decision Aid Systems, in developing and delivery of stakeholder need-driven decision support tools and harness other opportunities in Digital Ag,” Khot added.

“Lav is a fantastic scientist and knows the importance of weather data for Washington farmers,” said André-Denis Wright, dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “He will be a great leader to work with industry and researchers to grow this important WSU program.”

Khot has a two-year appointment as interim director.

Khot’s research and extension program at CPAAS focuses on crop monitoring and management technologies through in-field crop, environmental sensing, and automation to help farmers with site specific and precision management concerns.

“Crops face a wide variety of weather-induced stressors, including spring frost, summer heat, and more,” he said. “We have been exploring use of localized weather data to develop new tools to help growers mitigate these stressors.”

AgWeatherNet includes nearly 400 solar-powered weather stations across Washington. More than 100 of those stations are privately owned, and every station feeds real-time data into AgWeatherNet. The system had 175 total stations just three years ago, and those numbers continue to grow.

“We’re rapidly expanding the network with the addition of new stations to not only monitor open-field but also the in-field weather data,” Khot said. “That gives us a better understanding of localized weather and microclimate variations.”

That data includes air and soil temperature, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction, solar radiation, and more.

WSU researchers have been recording weather data daily for more than 100 years.

The first AgWeatherNet station was installed in 1988. Variables are recorded every five seconds and summarized every 15 minutes, providing a running record of weather that affects Washington agriculture.