The farmer's dream of calling down rain just when and where his crops need it may be taken a step closer to reality. A multiphase study, called Pace (Precipitation Augmentation for Crops Experiment), examines the possibility of applying the most advanced weather modification techniques. This summer in Illinois, the Water Survey Division of the Illinois Institute of Natural Resources has begun preliminary stages of the experiment.
The purpose of Pace is to learn whether midwestern weather can be beneficially modified and then, if so, to develop techniques for doing it. A little rain at the right times could not only increase the productivity of midwestern farmlands, it could also stabilize yields, which now vary greatly from year to year. ‘What we're trying to do is not so much to increase the total annual precipitation as to even it out over the growing season,’ explained Klaus Liedtke, acting director of NOAA's weather modification office, which is coordinating Pace. For most midwestern crops, chiefly corn and soybeans, the amount of precipitation in July and August is critical.