Farmers Get Hi-Tech With Weather Tracking

Weather is a farmer's lifeblood.

A simple change in precipitation, temperature or wind could mean the difference between success and devastation for a crop. Some depend on the Farmer's Almanac to make decisions about their crops, but others have taken a more 21st-century approach.

"We spend a lot of time trying to get the equation right and to produce a bushel of grain, and the wild card is Mother Nature," grain farmer Dick Thompson said.

To better his odds, Thompson and his team use a hi-tech system called Data Transmission Network, which is like having a personal weatherperson.

It uses a radar system to predict the weather and gives farmers up-to-the-minute forecasts for their specific locations. Thompson and his crew claim the technologically advanced addition to farming is accurate up to 75 percent of the time.

But not all farmers have entered the digital age when it comes to keeping an eye on the weather.

Diary farmer James Falb is low-tech and said his most reliable weather source is a bird called the killdeer. Falb said the bird gives a clear signal when it's about to rain.

"The rain call is when it's real distinct," he said.

When he hears the call, he marks it down and, within two or three days, it rains -- or at least he sees a weather change.

Falb said he would bet his farm on the killdeer's accuracy.

"I mean sometimes the weatherman can see stuff coming," he said. "But if I had to take my pick overall, I'd probably take the killdeer."