why did we start collecting solar data?
july26, 2008

we started collecting our solar radiation data as a part of a large-scale corn growth modeling project.  the solar radiation is a key factor in modeling growth accurately, however, there isn't a good national dataset.  we read several university papers mentioning that modeling the solar radiation was the best they could do, simply because the data wasn't available.  we also spoke to a professional climatologist, who believed there were only a couple hundred us stations with solar radiation.  he was very surprised to learn that we had found several thousand.  the problem with these stations is that the units and data formats are not consistent, so we have spent a lot of time writing software that will collect the data each week and rationalize them all into a single database with the same units.  the data collection itself has proven somewhat tempermental as well (stations appear and disappear,  websites change, general internet issues), so the data collection requires some weekly maintenance.

our next step is to collect soil and yield data, which we will incorporate into a website.  this site will allow users to get a crop forecast that we believe will be more accurate than any other tool currently available.  we also feel that our forecasts will be much more accurate than those produced by the usda.

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