The Crush - September 2021 - 1

Volume 48 Issue 9 September 2021
Precision Viticulture to Manage Vineyard Variability
By Ted Rieger
A basic premise of precision viticulture is that land is variable.
By using available tools and technology to understand this
variability, vineyard managers can use variable inputs to better
manage this variability to improve yields, improve grape quality,
and selectively harvest by location to target different wine price
and quality levels.
This summer's Precision Viticulture Symposium, hosted
by the National Grape Research Alliance (NGRA) and the
American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), featured
international experts presenting current knowledge and
technology for understanding and managing variability in
vineyards. Although many sensors, tools and technologies exist
to collect data, it is still a challenge to manage and analyze this
data for decision making.
Rob Bramley, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia, described how
Barossa Valley growers in Australia use terroir variation to
monitor concentration of the chemical compound rotundone
that gives a desired peppery characteristic to shiraz and is
associated with differences in soil electrical conductivity (EC). " By
understanding this variation in terroir and selectively harvesting
for different wine tiers within a vineyard, that knowledge can be
worth up to $90 per bottle, " Bramley said.
Bramley listed several key focus areas and enablers for profitable
digital viticulture:
* Yield prediction: Prediction models of
varying use exist, and several sensorbased
solutions are under development.
* Yield monitoring: Devices for
mechanical harvesters are available, but
not widely used.
Crop Circle sensors mounted on an ATV to gather NDVI vine canopy data.
Photo: Ted Rieger
* Prediction of fruit quality/composition: Progress is being
made, but more work is needed.
* Sensing of fruit quality/composition: A major need and
opportunity for viticulture.
* Simple tools for data analysis.
" Data is needed for all of the above, and we need tools to collect
that data, " Bramley said. " The wine sector already collects a lot
of data, but are we making the best use of that data? If you are
adopting precision viticulture (PV) technologies, you have a
better chance of achieving desired goals. "
Nick Dokoozlian, vice president of winegrowing research for
E. & J. Gallo Winery, discussed the promise and challenge of
PV based on experiments and research in Gallo's California
vineyards. Discussing the process of " measure, model and
manage, " he believes, " We're still in the measuring stage for most
PV operations. "

The Crush - September 2021

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