Weather forecasts

Dear All,

Evaporation 3rd to 9th January 2015 5, 6, 5, 5, 2-2, 5, 5

I have often been scornful of the Internet Weather web sites, claiming that they all consult the same Witch Doctor. I was wrong. I noticed last week that one was forecasting 150mm, one was 40mm and one only 21mm – that is a pretty wide spread of options. And not much use at all. However I have just come across an article that claims that we are actually making progress on the accuracy – if you are interested, check out:

I had hoped to send their graph of how their accuracy has improved over the last 100 years, but could not get it to paste into this text. I clearly need more lessons….and, I am not sure of their assessment that a 3 day forecast is 97% accurate even in the Southern Hemisphere…..

I had a visit from Trevor Beaumont, a friend who grew up in Zambia, but now works as an irrigation engineer out of Jamaica. We only had a few hectic days together (I could have used a month) but I picked his brains as comprehensively as I could. He has come to the same conclusion as me, that, when you install any irrigation equipment you buy the highest spec components that you can find. If you cannot afford them you delay until you can. So those ¼ turn wafer valves are only used at the end of the line (for flushing or as a hydrant control – where they can be easily replaced). Within a pipeline (especially at the pump) he uses the old screw type gate valve. Despite paying 40c a unit for electricity (more than 10 times ours) he doesn’t use variable speed technology as he still finds it too expensive. He tries to use 1450 rpm integral pumps or submersibles, rather than separate motors coupled to pumps. He has given me some software which enables one to design the pipes and pumps a lot better than I have been doing and a mapping program. To use this mapping I need to beef up my computer (and my brain – so don’t hold your breath) but it is brilliant for comparing data from field to field or farm to farm or district to district. (His population map of Malawi – where he has been doing some work – had rural areas with population densities as high as 150 people per sq km – with an annual growth rate for the whole country of 3.1%. Their population will double in 23 yrs, ours takes 25 – both of them SCARY.)

I am still not entirely happy with my curing even though we can now settle down without the stop start of Christmas/Sunday/ New Year/Sunday and so I am hoping it will mature significantly in the rough bales or the bulks. This blog is only going to about 10 tobacco farmers, but I would love to do a survey (or TAZ should do it) and see if there is a correlation between the value and styles of tobacco obtained and the storage system used. I will do what analysis I can, but it will depend on TAZ recording my selling numbers correctly – last year we lost the plot.

Although I (and my tobacco) is LOVING this sunshine, my dams are nowhere near full and I begin to suspect that they now won’t, so it will be my turn to skip winter cereals and plant a semi-irrigated crop in late September. (I only say that to tempt the weather to prove me wrong – and fill my dams next week!)



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