Vineyards are each different. Despite this, the conventional approach to wine grape production involves applying uniform management strategies in vineyards, thus setting aside their specificities and bringing them back to a concept of homogeneity.
The availability of a set of technologies, known as precision viticulture, now provides winegrowers and winemakers with the means to move away from this 'universal' approach and focus on targeted management. Such management, in fact, is based on the variation of intrinsic vineyard characteristics and specific objectives in terms of grape yield and quality. This allows exploitation in improved terms, while at the same time monitoring the weakest areas and carrying out specific actions on each of them.
In this article, we look at some points from recent research on vineyard variability and the development and adoption of precision viticulture.
What is precision viticulture?
Precision viticulture aims to maximise the oenological potential of vineyards. This is particularly true in regions where the high quality standards of wine production justify the adoption of specific management practices to simultaneously increase both quality and yield.
The introduction of new technologies to support vineyard management makes it possible to improve the efficiency and quality of production while reducing its environmental impact. The rapid evolution of technologies for the collection and use of information and for geolocalisation, as well as in general technologies grouped under the technical definition of IoT ('Internet of Things'), offer enormous potential for the development of optimised solutions for precision viticulture.
Precision viticulture thus seeks to exploit the widest range of available observations to describe the spatial variability of the vineyard and provide recommendations for improving management efficiency in terms of quality, production and sustainability.
Precision viticulture methods
Precision viticulture makes extensive use of technology to ensure the best results. To name but a few of the main methods and solutions revolutionising vineyard management, we have: remote sensing, the use of satellites, aerial monitoring and intervention, fixed-wing or rotary-wing platforms (UAVs) capable of autonomous flight, vineyard monitoring systems that provide high-resolution screening of the side of the canopy across the row coupled with a GPS system for georeferencing data, and robotics.
Today, geolocation technologies are fundamental, which is why Caffini - already at the forefront for years - has developed specific solutions such as T&Trac. The innovative end-to-end system applicable on agricultural machines equipped with ISOBUS or CAN BUS, which allows the automatic tracking of operations and treatments performed in the field, was developed in 2018. Another Caffini-branded revolution for vineyard mechanisation? Grasskiller, a water-powered weed killer for destroying weeds in vineyards and orchards.
Why does precision viticulture appeal?
Starting with the planting of the vineyard, precision viticulture makes it possible to fine-tune the choice of rootstock, variety, planting density and intervention methods, taking into account the characteristics of the different vineyard plots. It also provides valuable support for the evaluation and design of irrigation and drainage systems based on the needs of individual plots.
By taking into account the information gathered, it is possible to set up differentiated harvests according to the maturity or quality of the grapes, thus achieving the set oenological objectives, taking into account the different market requirements.
This also brings direct and indirect economic advantages. On the one hand, precision viticulture makes it possible to optimise and reduce costs related to pesticides, fertilisers, water, energy and labour. On the other, it allows the quality of the grapes to be improved, with obvious positive effects on the economic value of the end product.
All reasons why this innovative winegrowing management model has struck a chord with winegrowers.
Precision Viticulture: products and solutions
Caffini strives daily to move towards an agriculture that meets more and more innovation and respect for nature. Among the solutions that respond optimally to the needs of precision viticulture are
- the Smart Synthesis Hybrid mist-blower sprayer, with autonomous electric transmission and fan driven by an electric motor, defined by Meccagri as one of the most innovative among the numerous mist-blower sprayers produced by Caffini;
- the wide range of boom sprayers, as well as the already mentioned Grasskiller, a revolutionary and award-winning eco-sustainable mechanical weed-killing system designed by the Verona-based brand for under-row cultivation.
If you would like more information on our solutions for precision viticulture or if you have any questions or curiosity to ask us, do not hesitate to contact us: our team of experts is ready to give you the answers you are looking for.