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Extension Focus

The positive impacts of NEWA for grape producers

By Dan Olmstead

Screenshot of the NEWA webpage.
The NEWA network has grown from 48 weather stations in New York in 2007 to over 652 weather stations in 14 states. 

The Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) is an online agricultural decision support system with open access at http://newa.cornell.edu, providing local real-time grape production IPM tools and weather resources in close cooperation with specialists at the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program, New York State IPM Program, and Cornell Cooperative Extension. The network links 652 physical weather stations to provide growers with locally-specific grape disease and insect pest management resources.

NEWA Growth

From 2007 to 2017 NEWA grew from 48 stations in New York to 652 weather stations in 14 states. But interest continues to grow thanks to strong grower support and confidence in tools and resources that are offered. As a result, NEWA is currently undergoing a redesign to make important improvements such as secure user profiles and customized website experiences. We expect these changes to be complete in 2020.

2017 NEWA Survey of Impacts and User Insights 

In 2017, the New York State IPM Program surveyed current NEWA users and non-users to gather information about IPM and economic impacts. 331 participants completed the survey, of which 63 self-identified as grape growers who use NEWA for insect and disease management (see complete report at 2017 NEWA Survey).

IPM impact

In the survey, growers were asked a series of questions to measure IPM impact. The questions were identical to those asked in a similar survey, so that we could measure trends over time.   Here are the key results:

the majority of survey respondents agree or strongly agree that using NEWA helps to reduce sprays, improve spray timing, alert growers of pest risks, and enhance IPM
Figure 1. (A) 2007 survey responses (n=113, NY only)) to questions on the impact of NEWA on IPM practices, compared to (B) 2017 survey responses (n=166, all 14 NEWA member states) among apple, grape, and vegetable producers.
  • 100% of users said they would recommend NEWA to other growers.
  • 96% said 'yes' when asked if NEWA improves pesticide application timing.
  • 77% agreed or strongly agreed that NEWA pest forecasts help reduce number of sprays for to control diseases, insects, mites, or weeds, compared to 81% in 2007.
  • 86% agreed or strongly agreed that NEWA pest forecast information provides alerts to pest damage risk, compared to 90% in 2007.
  • 93% agreed or strongly agreed that NEWA pest forecast information enhances IPM decision-making for their crops, compared to 96% in 2007.
  • 95% agreed or strongly agreed that NEWA pest forecast information improves timing of their spray applications (fungicides, insecticides, miticides, or herbicides), compared to 93% in 2007.

Among participant self-identified as grape growers (n=72 from all NEWA states):

  • 93% use the grape berry moth model.
  • 83% use the black rot model.
  • 82% use the powdery mildew and downy mildew models.
  • 79% use the phomopsis model.

Responses to the 2017 survey (Figure 1) were very consistent with those from the 2007 survey.

Economic impact

Survey results from 2017 also showed that 75% of all apple, grape, and vegetable growers who used NEWA saved money on spray bills and avoided crop losses. This resulted in average annual cost savings of $4,329 and $33,048, respectively, and overall annual savings translated to $2,060 per acre. Grape growers specifically reported $1,315 and $6,500 in annual average cost savings from avoided spray and crop losses, respectively, and per acre savings was $594 across all vineyard sizes (Figure 2) .

Per acre, small farms reported average savings of $700 per acre while large farms reported average savings of $100 per acre. Farms reported over $1,200 savings from avoided sprays and over $6,000 savings from avoided crop loss.
Figure 2. Cost savings reported by NEWA grape growers from (A) avoided crop loss and (B) avoided sprays.  (C) Per acre estimated annual savings reported by grape growers when avoided sprays and avoided crop losses were considered together. Calculated from results of the 2017 NEWA User Survey.

Take advantage of NEWA tools and resources

Using NEWA as an IPM resource in grape production is a smart investment that pays for itself over time. Visit the NEWA website to learn more about joining NEWA. Growers and producers in any NEWA-member state can link a privately purchased weather station, provided by our preferred vendors Rainwise, Inc. or Onset Computer Corp, to the NEWA website to gain access to grape tools and resources. Growers outside of NEWA member states can still participate but pay an independent grower subscription of $290 annually.

Olmstead, D.L, and Carroll, J.E. 2018. The Network for Environment and Weather Applications: 2017 Survey of Impacts and User Insights. New York State IPM Program. 

Dan Olmstead is extension associate with the New York State IPM Program and program coordinator for the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA), based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY.