1- What is precision viticulture?

Precision viticulture: It is a new concept that was created a few years ago in Australia, and that Dr. Richar Smart has been able to sell in the rest of the wine world.

Roughly, we can say that precision viticulture brings together the necessary techniques to be able to produce the type of grape that the oenologist demands of us, always with high production quantities but with the quality that is requested of us. It is an optimization of viticulture in quantity and also in quality.

For this, all the current known techniques of vine growing management are used, which include cartographic and infrared maps taken by satellite for a homogeneous production of superior quality grapes.

2- Traditional concept of wine quality.

Winegrowers, technicians and oenologists affirm that a vineyard produces a quality product to the extent that it is capable of producing the same quantity and quality in a sustained way over time, maintaining the balance of balance in the vineyard.

To control this, indices are created, which are normally relationships between pruning wood weight and production, so that if the index is constant over time, the balance is adequate, but if it changes, there is an imbalance between vigor and production that needs to be corrected. Another widely used index is the relationship between active leaf area and weight of the grapes produced.

3- New concept of quality viticulture.

Professor Peter Drier from Australia introduced a new concept. Modify the previous indices and adapt them to the style of wine to be made. In other words, when we make a wine with certain characteristics (a certain sensory profile), it is studied, optimized and an attempt is made to reproduce the model to obtain that type of grape, but in the greatest quantity possible.

A relationship can be established between the organoleptic characteristics of the wine and the management of the culture.

4- What are the conditions to obtain high quality grapes?

To obtain a good wine we need good grapes, some of the factors to control are:

– Active leaf surface.

– Good distribution of the bunches.

– Control of growth from veraison.

– Control of the solar exhibition of the bunches.

– Try to homogenize and standardize the vineyards.

– Control of the physiological maturity of the grapes.

5- What are the factors that condition cultivation in precision viticulture?

The factors are the same, both in precision viticulture, as in conventional, traditional, ecological, biodynamic viticulture, namely:

– Climate.

– Ground.

– Portainjertos de vid.

– Variety.

– Type of pruning.

– Driving system.

– Orientation of the crop lines.

– Density of plantation.

– Active leaf surface.

– Pruning in green.

– Time from veraison to maturation.

Precision viticulture tries to control all these factors with new technologies to obtain the highest quality grape in quantity.

If one of the premises is quantity, every winegrower knows that it is directly related to irrigation and fertilization, so we must control the vine fertigation discipline very well .

6- Is precision viticulture affordable for any winery? Techniques used in precision viticulture.

Looking for the perfect balance between Soil-Plant-Climate for precision viticulture.

If we know the necessary factors for the correct development of our plant, we know our soil and our climate (all this is the terroir ), how can we interact in this environment to obtain quantity and quality? Some technologies used for the measurement and parameterization of viticulture are the following:

1- Climate control in precision viticulture:

The weather has developed a lot lately. It is relatively easy to place complete stations for climate control of the environment, which passes all the information to a computer. Working with historical models and prediction models we can establish patterns for the control of irrigation and phytosanitary treatments (directly related to the weather).

The climatic factors that must be controlled and analyzed are: Temperature, relative humidity, UV radiation, wind direction and speed, and evapotranspiration.

2- Soil control in precision viticulture :

Humidity control. Low frequency resonance.

The soil, and specifically the soil moisture available to the vineyard, can be controlled with low frequency resonance, which allows us to very precisely monitor soil moisture in any physiological state of the vineyard. The water supply is one of the most important factors to increase production. The use of these techniques allows us to increase production without lowering quality.

Control of fertility and knowledge of our wine-growing soils.

Soil mapping is the most appropriate technique to know the properties of the soil. The knowledge of the variability of the soil allows us to identify it and establish  different cultivation units (UC) where the works, treatments, irrigations, subscribers … will be appropriate for each cultivation unit. Soil mapping allows us to organize our UC based on fertility and yield in order to adapt a good fertilizer or nutrition plan.

3- Control of our vineyard plants in precision viticulture :

The dendrometria. Precision viticulture.

Dendrometria is a technique that measures the contractions and dilations of the trunk of the plant. It allows us to continuously monitor the water reserves in the trunk and diagnose its status and even predict it with the information accumulated from other campaigns.

Remote sensing, satellite images and infrared aerial photography. Precision viticulture.

With these technologies, heat maps can be made, which show us the state of the vine and the vigor of the plants. They are also used to calculate the vegetation indices of which we spoke at the beginning. With this tool you can obtain the spatial distribution of the needs of the vine and the needs of fertilizers to be used depending on the type of soil and the cycle of the vine.

All these data obtained, and with the appropriate computer program (GIS programs), will generate a database (historical) and will help us to make decisions (predictive) for the optimization of the cultivation of the vine based on real data. In this way, quality and quantity is possible.

7- Reflections on precision viticulture.

Unfortunately in Spain, despite having the largest vineyard area in the world, we are not up to par in the development of technology suitable for viticulture. All the techniques previously described come from the viticulture of the USA or Australia. In Spain we simply dedicate ourselves to applying the technologies developed by others, so we are always one step behind.

Fortunately, and as the new technologies sector is growing rapidly, in Spain we already have some companies that are dedicated to the subject of precision viticulture, not only for large farms, but also for small winegrowers.

You may also be interested in some of these viticulture articles published on this blog:

Ecological Viticulture. An alternative to conventional viticulture.

Integrated Viticulture. A model of sustainable agriculture.

Biodynamic Viticulture. The evolution of organic viticulture?

Dr. Sofia Seccombe

My name is Dr. Sofia Seccombe, and in this small section, I want to tell you who I am and why I started this project. I don't want to bore you, but I consider that it is an important part of godlywine. It serves as an exercise in transparency so that the person who reads the articles can be sure that the information is reliable.

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