If you're currently making irrigation and spray schedule decisions based on weather information from regional weather reports generated miles away, you may be interested in a new product from Onset Computer Corporation.

Onset Computer Corporation of Bourne, Mass., makes the HOBO Micro Station as well as a Soil Monitoring Station. The Micro Station is a battery-powered data logger that measures wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, rainfall, light, PAR, and solar radiation. It operates on four, AA batteries.

“A lot of people are making decisions when to spray and apply chemicals relying on regional weather stations,” says Paul Gannett of Onset Computer Corporation. “The Micro Station makes it accessible to apply on a field-by-field basis.”

The company began making data loggers in 1981 primarily for research purposes, but has recently entered the commercial agriculture market, Gannett says.

The Micro Station is compact, about the size of a Kleenex box. It has smart sensor technology that allows “plug and play” convenience, Gannett says. “From a packaging standpoint, it's unique.”

Data is stored in the monitor and can be loaded onto a PC or a computer notebook. “The most common thing that people will do is bring it back to their PC and put it into a disease model.”

Irrigation scheduling is also a big application for the HOBO Micro Station, Gannett says. “The Micro Station measures soil moisture and evapo-transpiration. Soil moisture is a direct indication of when crops need water.”

The Micro Station costs $199, which includes four inputs for smart sensor plug-ins that can be purchased separately.

In addition to the Micro Station, the company recently introduced its HOBO Soil Monitoring Station.

The Soil Monitoring Station, which costs $419, measures soil moisture and temperature. It's ideal for soil data collection at multiple locations, Gannett says. Quantity discounts are available for orders of five or more.

The soil moisture and temperature smart sensors are thin and can be easily inserted into the soil. The battery-powered system also uses four, AA batteries and can run for up to one year before having to replace the batteries. The soil data can be quickly offloaded onto a handheld PC using Onset's Palm handheld-compatible HandCar or the station can be set up and offloaded remotely using the company's battery-powered Remote Modem accessory.

Soil data can be analyzed using BoxCar Pro 4.3, a Windows-based software package that provides graphing, analysis and file export capabilities.

For more information, contact Onset Computer Corporation at 1-800-564-4377 or visit them on the World Wide Web at www.onsetcomp.com.

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com