°AHoRa – an app to convert short-term weather data into indicators of banana performance potential: calculated versus field values in Dominican Republic

C. Staver, D. Rengifo, P. Siles, G. Gandini, A. Tapia, T. Jimenez, W. Ipanaque, P. Tixier
Automated, digitalized weather stations provide local, real time weather records which can orient improved management to address increasingly variable weather. In the past decade Banelino, an association of over 200 small organic banana growers, in Dominican Republic, has installed 8 weather stations to improve black leaf streak management. However, in a recent survey in Dominican Republic, 90% of small growers indicated that they do not access weather data from their local station. A FONTAGRO-financed project is underway to design and validate an app to convert weather data into indicators of potential growth and productivity of banana useful to growers. Equations drawing on long-established relationships between short-term banana performance and weather factors such as temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, and potential evapotranspiration were synthesized and adapted NDASH leaf emission rate, duration of flowering to bunch harvest, potential bunch weight, nutrient demand to replace nutrients exported in bunches and water and irrigation demand. The app entitled °AHoRa from the symbol for temperature and first letters in Spanish for water, leaves and bunches receives daily updates from weather stations and calculates the indicators based either on varying fixed periods from 7 to 28 for water demand or variable periods based on accumulated growing degree days for leaf emission and bunch development. During a 4-month period small groups of pilot growers in close proximity to 5 different weather stations met biweekly to compare measured values from their farms with estimates of potential performance calculated based on real time weather data. Comparisons of calculated potentials with field data suggest a banana production performance gap from 10 to 70% below potential, greater for bunch weight than for leaf emission rate. Crop nutrition showed greater shortfalls than crop water demands. °AHoRa is a proof of concept for a crop-specific weather app, but also proved immediately useful to growers and field technicians. Approaches for more effective use and additional features to address resilience, efficiency and productivity are discussed.
Staver, C., Rengifo, D., Siles, P., Gandini, G., Tapia, A., Jimenez, T., Ipanaque, W. and Tixier, P. (2023). °AHoRa – an app to convert short-term weather data into indicators of banana performance potential: calculated versus field values in Dominican Republic. Acta Hortic. 1367, 97-106
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2023.1367.11
digital agriculture, yield gap, climate change, Musa

Acta Horticulturae