Data collected by SoL’s newly installed meteorology stations will be shared with organisations in Timor-Leste and across the globe to better determine how weather patterns affect agriculture in the country.

SoL Team shares a meal with farmers on a tarpaulin after installing a weather station

Seeds of Life has installed 17 new weather stations in the past five weeks to establish the impact of solar radiation on corn yields.

Using this data, SoL researchers will be able to better determine how farmers in Timor-Leste can improve their yields.

The amount of sunshine plants receive is an important factor in its output and SoL’s Climate Change Team want to know if high altitudes affect photosynthesis, hindering corn yields.

“We want to know if excessive cloud cover in the mountains has a limiting effect on the corn yield,” said SoL’s Climate Change Advisor, Samuel Bacon.

“So weather stations have been strategically placed at SoL research locations around Timor-Leste to compare the difference in yield due to radiation.”

The stations measure rainfall, temperature, wind speed, solar radiation and relative humidity, logging data every ten minutes.

SoL Climate Change Team and a newly installed weather station in Aileu

However, this valuable data is difficult to attain. The Climate Change Team spent weeks travelling through mountainous regions of Timor-Leste to negotiate land use with farmers before laboriously installing the systems.

Just as great a task is ensuring the stations are kept in good knick.

“Maintenance has been a big issue in the past with weather stations run by MAF. We hope that we have learnt from some of their challenges,” said Bacon.

Among these challenges are the impact of humidity on the equipment and the damage caused by ants and other insects, drawn by the heat of electronic components, to nest within the stations.

Fortunately, all new weather stations have been fitted with airtight cases to protect these important parts from corrosion and insect infestation.

The data will also be available to Timorese Government and NGOs and internationally through the Pacific Climate Change Science Program.