The Crush - March 2019 - 1

Volume 46 Issue 3 March 2019

[ FEATURE STORY ]

Vineyard Technology and Mechanization
UNIFIED SESSIONS EXPLORE NEW TECH AND COSTS OF ADOPTION
By Ted Rieger
New technologies and vineyard mechanization tools offer
opportunities to address grower concerns regarding labor
availability and costs, and the ability to improve grape quality
and crop yields. Two sessions at the 2019 Unified Wine & Grape
Symposium provided insights on present and future technology
for vineyard management and operations, costs and other factors
to consider when investing in new technology, and grower and
industry challenges in implementation.
SESSION: "FROM DRONES TO CHATBOTS - HOW THE
WINE INDUSTRY IS EMBRACING DIGITALIZATION"
Dr. Nick Dokoozlian, vice president of viticulture, chemistry and
enology for E. & J. Gallo Winery, said he believes technology is
currently available to address these key challenges over the next
three to five years: labor availability and cost; water availability,
quality and cost; and the need to simultaneously improve crop
yield and quality. But he said, "One problem we have today is we
haven't reached the point of being able to properly use the data
we have to make decisions." Citing another issue, he said, "We
have the technology to mechanize, but we don't have trained and
skilled labor to operate and maintain this technology."
Dokoozlian believes automated tractor guidance systems will be
used in vineyards within the next five years. "These tractors will
still have someone in the cab, but these machines can work faster
and cover more ground without issues related to driver fatigue."
He identified three important steps for "harnessing technology":
measure key performance metrics, model performance metrics
with impact parameters, and manage variable rate applications
to optimize performance. Remote sensing technologies
and normalized difference vegetation
index (NDVI) imagery can provide realtime geospatial analytics and block level
views of vine water status and vine vigor to

Panelists at the Unified Symposium addressed present and future technology that
can be helpful in vineyard management. Photo by Meredith Ritchie

implement variable rate drip irrigation, and to vary other inputs
at the block and vine level to optimize quality and yield.
Dr. David Ebert, professor of electrical and computer engineering
at Purdue University and co-founder of VinSense, talked about
the evolution of sensors that have become smaller, cheaper, can
measure more parameters, and perform data logging and data
transfer. He said low cost sensors can provide full soil nutrient
information, and plant information at the vine level with realtime continuous data. But he said, "If you think you're dealing
with data overload now, it will only get worse." He discussed
the future potential for developing "explainable artificial
intelligence and human-computer collaborative decision-making
environments," to turn data into relevant, actionable information.
SESSION: "THE COST OF TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION IN
THE VINEYARD - A FISCAL DISCUSSION ON TAKING THE
TECH LEAP"
Napa-based Walsh Vineyards Management farms more than
2,000 acres in the North Coast for multiple clients and has a



The Crush - March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush - March 2019

The Crush - March 2019 - 1
The Crush - March 2019 - 2
The Crush - March 2019 - 3
The Crush - March 2019 - 4
The Crush - March 2019 - 5
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