Last week the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture presented the report of this year’s grain harvest with a disappointing provisional result. After great expectations for this year’s harvest in spring, numerous significant cold front passages brought cool air masses during the summer months. Inconsistent weather patterns like that are impeding the predictability in the agricultural sector. The accessibility of highly resolved regional weather data can help to anticipate these patterns better. While tailored agricultural weather data and indexes enable the industry with the necessary tools to plan resources more efficiently.

Meteomatics Weather API provides easy access to a huge database comprising both above-mentioned datasets. Providing hyperlocal weather forecasts through a high-performance inhouse developed weather model as well as unique derived weather parameters for the agricultural industry, like evapotranspiration, growing degree days, or leaf wetness. Enabling customers to better plan the use of crop protection products and fertilizers, project resources for livestock farming and achieve highest levels of efficiency at sowing and harvest.

The German report of this year’s grain harvest shows that the inconsistent summer weather with regionally over average amounts of rain as well as constraints through hail and thunderstorms, lowered the expected crop results for the German agriculture in 2021. Figure 1, below shows an example of the inconsistent weather with a cold outbreak, arriving with polar air masses and precipitation, after a warm period on May 10th, 2021.

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Figure 1: Example for cold outbreak on May 10th, 2021, with warm air advection prior to the arrival of cold polar air masses

Especially the southern parts of Germany were affected by over average amounts of rain, with exceptionally high amounts in May, mid and end of June as well as in mid-August. What sounds like a reason to celebrate for the agricultural sector – after several years of dry summers – actually led to disrupted harvesting operations due to heavy rain and thunderstorms. The exceptionally high number of rain events in southern Germany, even led to a saturation of the soil, as depicted in figure 2, by the soil moisture exceeding a value of one. This in turn meant that flooded fields could not be entered by harvesting machines as well as the occurrence of failed crops due to the saturation of the soil.

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Figure 2: Soil moisture index on August 8th, 2021, over Europe. In the red highlighted regions, the soil moisture index exceeded the value of 1, indicating a saturated soil.

Meanwhile, some northern parts of Germany experienced dry conditions, like Brandenburg. Figure 3 below show the 10 years mean temperature compared to the daily mean temperature between May 1st and September 1st, 2021. It exhibits the significantly above average temperatures in northern parts of Germany during June and July this year. While temperatures in southern parts of Germany did not show any major deviations from mean values. This behavior is also reflected in the soil moisture, compare figures 4 and 5 below.

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Figure 3: 10 years mean temperature compared to daily mean temperature in northern Germany, from May to September 2021.

 

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Figure 4: Soil moisture index for 2 depth layers in northern Germany, from April to August 2021.

 

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Figure 5: Soil moisture index for 2 depth layers in southern Germany, from May to August 2021.

Overall, the report of Germany’s grain harvest shows that the year 2021 is again characterized by significant regional differences in the crop results. Whereby, the range of negative weather impacts on the harvest is wide, in some affected regions the agricultural sector faces crop failure, while in others the harvest is affected qualitatively. Recurring inconsistent weather patterns like that demonstrate the need for highly resolved regional weather data and agricultural indexes to plan resources in agriculture more efficiently in the future.