WSU AgWeatherNet models boost health of crops, animals, and people

AgWeatherNet station against sky backdrop.
One of several AgWeatherNet stations that provide publicly available, regional weather information.

Part of a century-long effort to record and share data on how Washington weather impacts agriculture, Washington State University has created three specialized modeling tools benefiting crops, animals, and people.

Close-up of Sean Hill.
Sean Hill, systems analyst and applications developer with WSU AgWeatherNet.

Accessed through WSU’s AgWeatherNet service, the Cattle Comfort, Human Heat Stress, and Growing Degree Days models rely on data gathered from WSU’s network of 350 weather stations across the state.

“These models are the direct result of collaborations with researchers, industry partners, and producers,” said Sean Hill, a systems analyst and applications developer with WSU AgWeatherNet.

In 1988, WSU rolled out the first AgWeatherNet station at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser, Washington, which used solar power to automatically record weather information every 5 seconds and then summarize it every 15 minutes.

Today, AgWeatherNet offers food producers and ag managers nearly 20 weather models that provide tailored, regional weather information in advance.

Cattle Comfort

Close-up of Sarah Maki Smith.
Sarah Maki Smith, WSU regional animal science specialist with Grant County Extension.

Two years ago, a major heat event impacted Washington cattle, prompting cattle feeders to approach Sarah Smith, WSU regional animal science specialist with Grant County Extension. Together, they brainstormed ways to prepare for the next heat event.

Smith located successful, preexisting Extension cattle heat-alert models at Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University, then connected the cattle producers with AgWeatherNet Director Lav Khot and Hill to begin developing a similar model.

The result was Cattle Comfort, which has been publicly available since May 2022.

“Feedlot managers using Cattle Comfort receive advance warning of heat events so they can prepare to create shade, start running misters, and change the animals’ diet,” Smith said.

Cattle producers have already contributed additional funds to AgWeatherNet to build more weather stations in central Washington.

Human Heat Stress

Anticipating hotter summers, WSU and the University of Washington’s Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center began studying how to protect Washington’s ag workforce during periods of increased temperatures.

Through this collaboration, the Human Heat Stress model was released in 2020 to alert outdoor ag workers and managers about upcoming heat events and offer recommendations for staying safe.

Growing Degree Days

Lav Khot with weather station
AgWeatherNet Director Lav Khot.

The Growing Degree Day model is a measurement that helps predict the growth of certain plants and insects.

“This model is the most widely used by our ag stakeholders to make many important management decisions,” said Khot, an associate professor with WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering and part of the Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems.

Further information

AgWeatherNet can be accessed online. To see the full list of models, simply register to create an account, then select “Models.”

Media contact

Lav Khot, AgWeatherNet Director, phone: 509-335-5638, email: