The Department of Geography, Geo informatics and Climatic Sciences (GGCS) has donated and installed an automated Weather station at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK).
The automated equipment was procured through an arm of DAVIS Company in Uganda using part of the SIDA project funds extended to the GGCS mainly to facilitate climate related research and agricultural training at the University farm. Data collected can go to the national database and used to improve on forecasting.
The equipment was handed over to the Director MUARIK Assoc. Prof. PhinehasTukamuhabwa and installed by a team from the GGCS department comprising Dr. Saul Daniel Ddumba, Alex Nimusiima and Hosea Opedes on 26th April, 2016.
Also present were the Ag. Farm Manager MUARIK Ahangaana Julius Peter, Assist. Farm Manager Chrycestom Tweyambe and Eng. Tibaku-Zira Ernest from the Department of Agricultural engineering who is the in-charge of the weather station.
Receiving the equipment, the Director MUARIK Assoc. Prof. PhinehasTukamuhabwa described the equipment as an important asset for agricultural research and production.
“Weather affects crop growth and animal wellbeing. So, all people doing research will be able to know the weather conditions such as sunshine and rainfall. It will help us to have weather conditions well established and recorded. We are very grateful for the equipment”.The Director remarked.
Dr. Tukamuhabwa thanked the GGCS Department for considering MUARIK pledging to avail the facility to everybody for training purposes and research at the institute.
He said the institute had an old and well established weather station dating as far as 1970’s.From history and books,Dr. Tukamuhabwa recalled that Kabanyolo, was one of the weather stations they used to read about during their early school times.
“Unfortunately over time the equipment ran out and there was no equipment. In the few years that have past, there have not been weather records taken here in MUARIK. So, we are happy we have gone back to the state of affairs when we can record data for Kabanyolo.” Said Dr. Tukamuhabwa.
The Director implored other CAES departments to emulate GGCS, support and own MUARIK to make it more vibrant and useful that CAES and Makerere University as a whole can be proud of.
“For example this weather station that has been established by the Department of Geography will be used by the Department of Agricultural Production, Food Science and technology, by the farm, foresters and schools and colleges that come here to learn and in so doing, we develop the capacity of those institutions.” He added.
Assist. Lecturer GGCS Alex Nimusiima ,who is also the Co-ordinator Meteorology Unit said the department offered the automated weather station to assist in climate related related research on the university farm.
This machine records weather information including rainfall, temperature, solar radiation, humidity and are key to agricultural production that is why we thought a station like MUARIK needed a weather station. This machine was purchased from part of the funds from SIDA project.
“Sida is funding the GGCS and we thought in our outreach mission we needed to reach out to other units other than our own. The automatic weather station was procured through DAVIS which has a company in Uganda and such an automated weather station is estimated to be between USD 1.5-3.5 million.” Said Nimusiima.
Nimusiima described the weather station as an important instrument in climate research and crop production.
“You cannot produce crops and animals if you do not have data on climate/weather. You need to know rainfall patterns, humidity, temperature, when to plant because even incidences of pests and diseases depend on weather. ” The Don said.
The Assist Lecture, GGCS Dr. Saul Daniel Ddumba explained that the DAVIS Automated Weather equipment has an in-built rain guage, the stevensons screen where all delicate instruments are kept, it has a minimum and maximum thermometer, equipment for measuring humidity and sensors for measuring radiation.
“It does not require you to work manually and pick your data. It has solar panels and battery that can last for 10 years; it sends the signals to the receiver about 300 meters away from the installation point and then, at the receiver, it has a USB cable which connects to the computer. You can down load data and then use it for research”. Dr. Ddumba narrated.
He added that the machine is delicate installed at 2metres above the ground. The equipment installed according to Dr. Ddumba is not for synoptic Weather records . The weather information to be collected is specifically for agricultural work and most of agricultural plantations are around 2 metres above the ground.
Dr. Ddumba expressed excitement to have the equipment saying, it is going to transform climate research in the CAES as it is very important in doing agronomy work to keep track of the weather.
“The equipment has been set up in a very nice place fully enclosed so that there is no encroachment by people and animals and that is very critical for a weather instrument. However, we need to calibrate it.” He said.
By calibration, Dr. Ddumba explained that just nearby the weather station installed, they were going to put a manual rain guage, study it for about one month recording data and compare it with data from the automated weather instrument, then see how to adjust it and prepare it to ensure it records the right data required.
Report Compiled by
Communication Officer, CAES.