HortPlus.com.au

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info@hortplus.com.au
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Live Chat

We understand that product support is important and in some case's it is just easier if you can chat to someone, so we have included this live chat feature in to the HortPlus website. You don't need to install anything, it's all done through the internet. Just click on the "HortPlus Support" name on the right to start a chating to someone in the HortPlus office.

FAQs

General

  1. How do I get a demo of HortPlus products?
  2. Tell me about updates and upgrades.
  3. What is a GDD or GDH?
  4. What is a Chill Unit?

Temperature MicroLoggers

  1. The Starter Kit looks great! What do I do with it now?
  2. How accurate are the temperate loggers?

MetWatch Systems

  1. Will the MetWatch disease models work in my district?
  2. How does MetWatch help with secondary (conidial) Blackspot infections?
  3. Are there any other disease infection risk models?
  4. What about disease models that are still in the research phase?

MetWatch Software

  1. I already have a weather station. Can MetWatch use data from this station?
  2. Any tips on creating a new met data file?
  3. The disease display in MetWatch is blank. What is happening?
  4. MetWatch seems to be 'frozen'. What is happening?
  5. I can download the weather station, but no data shows in MetWatch
  6. How do I add a new weather station or update access details?
  7. Is it possible to add text data to the MetWatch disease information?
  8. How do I import temperature data from the Temperature MicroLoggers
  9. Getting an error such as '... is not a valid floating point value'?
  10. Loading data from a Tiny Tag recorder and getting message 'Time is not a valid time'
  11. I get an error: 'Exception EReportPrinter in module...'?
  12. No data shows in MetWatch, and the title bar shows a very odd date.

Weather Forecast Viewer Software

  1. When does my annual subscription run out, and how do I renew?
  2. Any hints on interpreting the Forecast Viewer output?
  3. What does 'Timed Out' mean when trying to get the weather forecast?
  4. Why does the list of weather forecasts show a different weather station to mine?
  5. How do I get a table of numbers for the forecast in addition to the graph?
  6. Now I can see the table of numbers for the forecast, how do I print it?
  7. I get an error 'Host not found'?

Weather stations and weather information

  1. What do I need to know about weather station leaf wetness sensors?
  2. Any tips on setting up a Campbell weather station?

General

Back To Top1. How do I get a demo of HortPlus products?

Demos of most HortPlus products are available through this website or by contacting us.


Back To Top2. Tell me about updates and upgrades.

HortPlus is continually refining and improving its products.

Free updates are often made available, instructions are sent to the client or displayed on this website on how to update their product when a newer version becomes available.

Major upgrades will occasionally be released, for which there is usually a charge. Older versions of the software will continue to be supported for 18 months from the release of a new version.


Back To Top3. What is a GDD or GDH?

GDD stands for Growing Degree Day and it used to monitor the effect of temperature during the season on crop growth, development and maturity. It is calculated by subtracting a base temperature from the daily average temperature. If the number is less than 0, the GDD is 0. If the average daily temperature is 15°C and the base temperature is 10°C there are 5 GDD's. The base temperature is assumed to be the temperature at which plant development slows or stops. GDD's for each day are usually added together to give a GDD accumulation. This accumulation can be used as a comparison with previous years or to estimate the time for a crop to reach maturity.

Similarly Growing Degree Hours (or GDH) are calculated using the same principles, but using hourly temperature data rather than averge daily temperature. Some researchers will convert GDH to a psuedo-GDD by dividing the daily total of GDD by 24.

It is important when comparing GDD or GDH that you know how they have been calculated so that you are comparing like with like..


Back To Top4. What is a Chill Unit?

A Chill Unit measures temperature below a base temperature to give a measure of how cold a period of time such as the winter has been, similar to the way a GDH or Growing Degree Hour provides a measure of plant response to warmth.

See this article for a more detailed answer about chill units.


Temperature MicroLoggers

Back To Top1. The Starter Kit looks great! What do I do with it now?

To install the HortPlus Micrologger software run the setup programme off the floppy disk by using Start | Settings | Control Panel | Add/Remove programmes then clicking on Install and then use the browse button to select A:\Setup.exe and follow onscreen instructions from there. The setup programme will create the necessary folders for installation and the default path names should be accepted.

The next step is to run the Logger Setup programme which you only need to do once to establish which port on the computer you are using. Plug the reader (the thingie with the two holes in it) into the back of your PC. Go to Start | Programs | HortPlus | Logger Setup. In the bottom left hand corner you will see a button saying Auto Detect. You will get a warning to which you can answer OK or Yes. Click on that and when it says it has discovered a 'one wire device' answer Yes and the software will configure itself and exit.

After that you just need to run the logger software by going to Start | Programs | HortPlus | HortPlus Micrologger.

Pop a button into either hold of the reader. You should now see three tabs:

Wizard
Use the Wizard to setup a new logging session on the logger. Ignore the Time and temperature alarms for now as they don't apply to the type of application you have in mind. Mission Start Delay allows you to specify how long a delay to allow before the logger actually starts to log temperatures. Sampling Rate is just as it sounds - you are telling the logger to wake up and take a temperature at the specified time interval. Ignore temperature alarms for now. Put a click in Enable Rollover if you want the logger to keep recording and overwrite earliest readings if the memory gets full. When you click on Finish you will be warned you are about to clear the logger's memory. Let the process finish (you can see things changing at the bottom of the screen as the logger is configured) and then you can remove the logger from the reader.

Status
Tells you what is happening on the logger and how it is configured.

Mission Results
Put a logger into the reader then click on the Read Data button. You can see what is happening in the wee window at the bottom of the screen. You can then click on the Graph button to get a quick graph up of the data. Use the Export button to dump the data to a text file which can then be imported to Excel or virtually any other programme. When importing to Excel, use File | Open, and set the File Type to text file. An import Excel Import Wizard will open. Use the defaults such as Delimited, and Tab as the delimiter and you will get the data correctly parsed into columns.


Back To Top2. How accurate are the temperate loggers?

We are often asked how accurate are the Temperature MicroLoggers. The manufacturer claims an accuracy of ±1°C with a recording resolution of either 1/2°C or 1/8°C depending on the model. Typically we see the vast majority of loggers with an accuracy of ±0.5°C or better. The temperature sensors of individual loggers are QCed at the factory with NIST-traceable equipment, but the loggers are not issued with calibration certificates. Some clients will put the loggers into a stirred ice bath to calibrate individual loggers and record an 'offset value' for each logger. An ice bath calibration will give you greater accuracy and higher confidence, and will provide the type of documentation required for eg EUREPGAP.


MetWatch Systems

Back To Top1. Will the MetWatch disease models work in my district?

Yes but you may need to do some validation first to gain confidence. Every effort has been made to ensure the reliability of the models but they have not been tested for every situation. We advise you to take a cautious approach to using the models in an area where they have not been tested.


Back To Top2. How does MetWatch help with secondary (conidial) Blackspot infections?

A grower wrote in "I seem to have been caught with a primary blackspot infection, which I don't want to turn into a major secondary infection. Does HortPlus Metwatch predict when a condia infection has ocurred?"

Dr Robert Beresford of HortResearch provides the answer. "Metwatch lists potential conidial infection events when you click 'yes' to night start in options. However, in a situation where severe primary infection has become established, there is no alternative but to maintain good fungicide cover for the rest of the season. It is strongly recommended to follow the black spot assessment protocol in the IFP manual. That assessment should be done about early December, and fungicide decisions should be based on the monitored black spot level, as a well as on occurrence of conidial infection periods."

So while MetWatch can provide you with information on secondary conidia infection events, you will need to exercise a different control strategy from primary infection events.


Back To Top3. Are there any other disease infection risk models?

There is a wide range of disease models available throughout the world. We plan to incorporate some of these into MetWatch. This will depend on demand so if you have a favorite model contact us. You might be surprised how quickly the model can be incorporated into MetWatch.


Back To Top4. What about disease models that are still in the research phase?

For models still under development, we plan to release a research version of MetWatch that will allow you to enter and manipulate the parameters for the model. Contact us if this is of interest to you.


MetWatch Software

Back To Top1. I already have a weather station. Can MetWatch use data from this station?

MetWatch allows data from many logger types to be imported but the data must be in a specific format. We currently directly support downloading from weather stations produced by Campbell, GPSE, Metos, Environdata, and MCS. Data from other weather stations can be imported with the Edit|Load Met Data From File menu item. This is covered in MetWatch manual.

MetWatch can also import the data from the Temperature and Humidity MicroLoggers.


Back To Top2. Any tips on creating a new met data file?

MetWatch stores weather data in a file with the extension 'que'. A new file is created in MetWatch using the menu item File | Create Met File. A setup wizard will step you through creating a new file. By convention we create a new data file in MetWatch to store the weather data from one weather station for one year. In the Southern Hemisphere our growing season the spans calendar years, so it makes the most sense to have a data file which is in synch with the growing season. We use 1 June as the starting date for the met file, and 31 May as the end date.

Each weather station is usually assigned a three-letter code name. We use these in the file naming conventions. When you need to input the name for the new file use a combination of: station name, start year, stop year. So for example for a file for Manatuke, Gisborne (MTK) for the 1999/2000 growing season you would create a file called MTK9900
  ie. start date 1/6/1999, end date 31/5/2000

MetWatch calculates the time of sunrise and sunset for use in some of the disease models, so you need to know the latitude and longitude of the weather station when creating a new met file.

When creating the met file you will also be asked when daylight saving starts and stops. In New Zealand daylight saving normally starts the first Sunday of October, and ends the third Sunday of March. If you do not adjust the time on the weather station for daylight saving, then say 'no' in response to the relevant question as shown below.

Screen Shot


Back To Top3. The disease display in MetWatch is blank. What is happening?

If there are no disease events to show on a screen in MetWatch, the top panel will show nothing at all, including no day/night white/gray bars. This is correctly reporting that there is no disease events; however, without the bars it is a bit disconcerting! This will be changed in a future release of MetWatch so that the day/night bars are always shown regardless of whether there are any disease events to show.


Back To Top4. MetWatch seems to be 'frozen'. What is happening?

If you are viewing a disease summary or weather summary on screen and then switch to another application - say Excel to paste in some weather data, you may come back to MetWatch and find it 'frozen'. You can see the MetWatch screen, but you cannot press any buttons or select any menu items. What has happened is that the form you were previously looking at for the weather or disease summary is lurking in the background and needs to be made visible before you can proceed. To make the form visible you need to hold down the 'Alt' key on you keyboard, adn then press 'Tab'. This brings up a list of running programmes which you scroll through by pressing the 'tab' key (while still holding down the 'Alt' key). When you find the hidden form, release both alt and tab and you should see the missing form which you can now close. This will be fixed in a future updated.


Back To Top5. I can download the weather station, but no data shows in MetWatch

Firstly, make sure that the date range to display, including the year, is correct! This is often the source of the problem when you have been viewing data from different years.

If the date is set correctly, it is likely that you have changed 'years'. By convention a MetWatch weather file holds one calendar year of data. Also by convention in the Southern Hemisphere we use the year from June 1 to 31 May. Around June 1 of each year you will want to create a new weather data file to hold the weather station data, and to modify the download software so that the new data is put into the new file.

Contact us to update your weather station access.


Back To Top6. How do I add a new weather station or update access details?

You have emailed me a file, or sent me a disk, for accessing a weather station - what do I do with it?!

1. If the file was e-mailed to you, copy the attached file onto a floppy disk.
2. Put the floppy disk with the weather station file into the appropriate place!
3. Select Start|Programs|HortPlus|Station Update Utility.
4. Click Add Weather Station.
5. Hightlight the three letter code for the weather station and click OK.
6. Close the program and you are ready to download the station.


Back To Top7. Is it possible to add text data to the MetWatch disease information?

Yes! You can add text information to the top (disease) panel of MetWatch using a trick involving the menu item Load / Spray Diary. Clients have reported using this feature to add text information to MetWatch output ranging from peticide applications to an organic grower's displaying phases of the moon.

1. Setup the data to show in a spreadsheet with one column being the date(s) where information is to be shown, and the column immediately to the right containing the information to display. Each text string can be up to 5 characters in length.
2. Ensure that the date format of the cells containing the date(s) is set to dd/mm/yyyy which you do by highlighting the relevant cells, selecting Format/Cells/Number/Date and setting to dd/mm/yyyy.
3. Next highlight the cells containing the date/text data, and copy it to the windows clipboard (ie Edit/Copy).
4. Paste the information into MetWatch with the Load/SprayDiary option in MetWatch.

Copying text data into MetWatch is very useful for reports and analysis, and takes about 1/10 the time it took you to read these instructions! The most common mistake made is to not set the date format to dd/mm/yyyy.


Back To Top8. How do I import temperature data from the Temperature MicroLoggers

You can import data from the Quick Measure Temperature Loggers into MetWatch to use MetWatch's analysis and graphing features for Growing Degree Days, Chill Units, etc. Create a new weather file by opening MetWatch, selecting menu item File | Create Met File, and then following the instructions. DO NOT specify any dates for daylight savings as there is a bug that will cause the import routine to throw a wee wobbly. This will be corrected in a future release.

When you export data from the Quick Measure Temperature Loggers you will create a text file. This file can be re-aranged to provide the correct format for importing into a MetWatch file. One way to do this is to import the file into Excel (File | Open | Files of Type Text File. Select Delimited and click Next. Highlight Tab as a valid delimiter. Click Next then Finish.

Scroll down through the area of the resulting spreadsheet containing summary information. At around row 92 you will see the first of your temperature data with date and time in one column and the temperature data in the column next to it.

Assuming the data starts in row 92, copy these formula into the appropriate columns and then copy the formulas down for each row of data.

Column Enter this formula
C =YEAR(A92)
D =MONTH(A92)
E =DAY(A92)
F =TEXT(HOUR(A92), '00') & TEXT(MINUTE(A92), '00')
G =B92


Now you can copy the columns C to G containing the date, time, and temperature data by highlighting it and selecting Edit | Copy. Run MetWatch, open the MetWatch file into which you want to enter the temperature data, click Load | Load Data From Met File. Put a tick in the temperature box only, remove the tick from any other weather variables. Ensure that Tab is selected as the data separator as shown in the screen shot below.

Screen Shot

Click in the blank area ABOVE the red line, hold down shift and press Insert (Shift-Insert) on the keyboard and your data should appear. Click OK and the data will be imported into the MetWatch file.

It is a lot quicker than it sounds!


Back To Top9. Getting an error such as '... is not a valid floating point value'?

There are a couple of possible reasons for this.

This is an error usually seen by European users! MetWatch uses the non-European convention of the '.' character as the decimal indicator. Europeans often use the comma as the decimal indicator. You can easily set the decimal indicator to '.' by changing your Windows Regional Settings.

Click Start | Settings | Control Panel | Regional Settings | Number

then set the Decimal Symbol to (without the quotes of course), and click on Apply then OK.

Re-start MetWatch and all should be well.

We have also seen this error crop up with an Australian client importing data from a non-Campbell weather station. Despite all number and date formats being set explicitly with control panel regional settings, it was not until they changed the language setting from English(Australian) to English(New Zealand) that the error went away. We are working on this area of MetWatch.


Back To Top10. Loading data from a Tiny Tag recorder and getting message 'Time is not a valid time'

Not our fault! The later versions of the GLM software shipped by Gemini with your Tiny Tag loggers now append information to the logger's title which causes the title to be too long for MetWatch to handle. The solution is to shorten down the title of your logger to say three letters using the Gemini GLM software. (Connect your logger to the PC, run Gemini GLM software, Connect, then alter title and save. Talk to your Gemini Tiny Tag dealer if you need further instructions on this). HortPlus will change MetWatch in a future update to accomodate Gemini's ad hoc change..


Back To Top11. I get an error: 'Exception EReportPrinter in module...'?

The error 'Exception EReportPrinter' occurs when there is a problem encountered with a printer driver in Windows. The solutions is to re-install the printer driver. To do this:
1. Use Start | Settings | Printers to open the printers area.
2. Right-click your printer icon.
3. Click on Delete to remove the printer.
4. Double-click the Add Printer icon to re-install your printer following the instructions on screen. Use the Windows Help system for further information on re-installing printer if needed.


Back To Top12. No data shows in MetWatch, and the title bar shows a very odd date.

This is an interesting one! Thanks to Reid Fletcher for catching it.

1. Shut down MetWatch if it is running, then in Windows Explorer, navigate to C:\hortplus\apps\metwatch.
2. Right-click the MetWatch weather station file that is giving you problems (eg MWR0203.que).
3. Select properties.
4. Remove the tick from 'read-only' and click apply.

That should be it. Next time you run MetWatch all should be well with the world.


Weather Forecast Viewer Software

Back To Top1. When does my annual subscription run out, and how do I renew?

To find out when your annual subscription for the weather forecast terminates run the Forecast Retrieval System and select menu item File | Register forecast. The date listed as Expiry Date is the end of your forecast subscription period.

When you are ready to renew your subscription:
1. Check the current pricing of the annual Forecast Subscription which can be found on the MetWatch Software page. You can pay by cheque, credit card, or direct credit.
2. Run the Forecast Retrieval System.
3. Select menu item File | Register forecast.
4. Click on the Copy button on the form that appears. This will copy the relevant registration information to the Windows clipboard.
5. Paste the registration information into your word processor's menu item Edit | Paste, or create an email to info@hortplus.com, and use menu item Edit | Paste to paste the registration information into the email.
6. Payment accompanying your order keeps our accountant from tearing their hair out!

We will send you your new registration code as soon as we receive payment from you along with a tax receipt. Your new subscription period will start right after your current subscription period runs out, so you do not lose any subscription time by renewing a bit early.


Back To Top2. Any hints on interpreting the Forecast Viewer output?

Below is an explination on how to interpret the forecast viewer software.

Screen Shot


Back To Top3. What does 'Timed Out' mean when trying to get the weather forecast?

'Timed Out' is a general computer term which means that two computers or devices have not been able to establish communications with each other in a pre-set amount of time. After you select the forecast(s) to retrieve and then click on 'Get Forecast', a command is sent to your Internet Service Provider's (ISP) computer asking it to connect to our computer and get the file containing the forecast data (this a bit of a simplification but good enough for our purposes here!). If the two computers cannot establish and maintain communications then a 'Time Out' error occurs. In the case of retrieving the forecast this usually means that your ISP's computer is very busy and could not finish servicing your request within the alloted time. Try again later is usually the solution, but if the problem continues please contact us.


Back To Top4. Why does the list of weather forecasts show a different weather station to mine?

The weather forecast for an area is centred on a specific weather station. That weather station's name is shown in the list. The MetWatch system is smart enough to know to show the correct weather forecast for the currently opened MetWatch weather file even if it has a different name from the name on the list for your area's forecast.


Back To Top5. How do I get a table of numbers for the forecast in addition to the graph?

If you 'left-click' on the weather graphs in MetWatch you will get a table of values for the actual weather data. To see the forecast weather data, click on the menu item labeled View, then select Hourly Forecast. A spreadsheet-like table will be displayed showing the weather data that was last downloaded.


Back To Top6. Now I can see the table of numbers for the forecast, how do I print it?

If you are running version 2 of MetWatch you will see a button labelled Print which - no surprise - prints the table of forecast values. If you are running version 1 of MetWatch you will need to click on the Copy button which places a copy of the information on the 'Windows clipboard'. You can then go into your favourite spreadsheet or word processor and paste the information in by clicking on menu item Edit then Paste.


Back To Top7. I get an error 'Host not found'?

If you get an error message 'Host not found' when you try to retrieve the forecast check your setup configuration by :

1. Click on File | System Setup.
2. Ensure that the server name is set to 'hortplus.com'.
3. If it already says hortplus.com it is possible that your network setup may not be able to correctly translate Internet addresses so try directly entering into the server name box the internet address of hortplus.com which is 216.71.142.150


Weather stations and weather information

Back To Top1. What do I need to know about weather station leaf wetness sensors?

Leaf wetness is extremely important in assessing disease risk. Drying of the leaves for a certain minimum time will break the disease development cycle and 'reset the clock'. A variety of sensors have been developed to enable automatic monitoring of leaf wetness, generally based on the principle of reduced resistance to an electrical current as the sensor becomes wetted.

For a very detailed treatise on the complexities and uncertainties of measuring leaf wetness check out The Leaf Surface Wetness Duration Home Page.


Back To Top2. Any tips on setting up a Campbell weather station?

The following information comes from weather station guru Warwick Henshall at HortResearch. Thanks Warwick for these notes on how you set up the HortResearch weather stations!

(1) For temp probes housed in a small screen, we keep a 10-min running average, and use that for max & min air temps. This is to make max/min approximate a Stevenson screen (longer time constant than small metal or plastic screen).

(2) Our logger time stays on NZST. During daylight savings, the 9am output is at 0800 NZST; otherwise at 0900. Note that when you create a MetWatch file you are asked about when daylight saving starts and finishes; and if the weather station's time is changed for daylight saving.

(3) Output arrays are:

Array 20 hourly:
Array ID, Day, Time(Hour-Min), DB Temp(Av), WB
Temp(Avg) ,Wetness(Avg) ,Rainfall(Total), then anything else.
At a few sites there is no DB temp.

Array 30 '9 am':
Array ID, Day, Time(Hour-Min), MinTemp, MaxTemp, Rain(Total), then anything else such as Grass Min, Wind Run if recorded.

Array 50 midnight:
Array ID, Day, Time(2400), MinTemp, MaxTemp, Year, MinBattery
(So the year only appears in Array 50.)