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Ruben Behnke

Ruben Behnke


Mesonet Research Climatologist

Office Building

Raven Precision Agriculture Center



Mailing Address

Raven Precision Ag Building 104
Ag & Biosystems Engineering-Box 2100
University Station
Brookings, SD 57007


I currently teach a Climate Risk Management course in the university's Precision Agriculture program. Besides teaching, I am working on several projects with the South Dakota State MesoNet.


After receiving B.S. degrees in Environmental Science and Field Biology from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, I moved to Madison, WI, where I earned my M.S. in Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences. In August 2017, I received my PhD in Forestry and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana - Missoula.

Work Experience

After receiving my M.S. from UW Madison, I worked for two years as an Assistant Researcher providing weather and climate data for two large interdisciplinary grants. One was focused on bird demography related to heat waves and the other on gastrointestinal illness as a result of extreme precipitation events.

At the University of Montana, I worked with the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative, where we researched the use of UAS/UAV technology in obtaining weather data. This included running the WRF (Weather Research and Forecast) model at very high resolution to predict the spread of wildfire.

Area(s) of Research

Much of my work is currently focused on three areas:
1) developing a wet-bulb globe temperature data set for determining heat index values across South Dakota
2) developing methodology for predicting stability and inversion factors related to dicamba drift
3) producing an ET as well as soil moisture and temperature climatology using South Dakota MesoNet data

Applications of Research

Most of the work I do is related directly to agriculture, mostly corn and soybean production. Dicamba drift and volatilization is currently a major concern for producers, who want to avoid spraying in conditions conducive to these factors.

Of major concern, as well, are soil moisture conditions, which can be highly variable across the state, as this year showed. Accurate measurement, estimation, and mapping of soil moisture across the state can provide critical information to producers who are considering options from installing drainage tile to installing irrigation systems.