A new smartphone app that measures the water status of their vine will help grape growers make better irrigation decisions for their vineyard.
The new technology works by a grape grower taking images of the canopy of the grapevine using a thermal camera attached to their smartphone. The image is analysed by the app, which calculates the vine water status.
The Wine Australia-funded project is being led by SARDI in close collaboration with The University of New South Wales (UNSW).
"Water and associated pumping costs can be a significant component of the production costs for grape growers," Paul Petrie, Viticulture Scientist at SARDI who is leading the 18-month project, said.
"Uncontrolled water stress has the potential to reduce the yield and quality of grapes and the resulting wine, which in turn reduces the return to growers.
"The management of vine water status is a key tool for grape growers to regulate yield and optimise fruit quality and style.
"This new app offers grape growers instant feedback on the water status of their vines, and provides them with the flexibility to assess multiple blocks or sections of blocks, and to make irrigation decisions in real time."
The 18 month project aimed to evaluate a range of smart phone-based sensing systems to develop a cheap, easy-to-use vine water status monitoring app, to assist growers to manage irrigation.
The app was developed by UNSW, and the technology was initially tested at the Loxton Research Centre. The tool is now being tested by a variety of wineries, with their feedback helping to inform the further development of the innovative technology.
The new technology is being tested by 15 vineyards in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania for the rest of the growing season.
The aim is to release the final version of the app later in 2017.