Canberra wine region adds drones to climate battle arsenal | Canberra time

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Drone technology is being deployed to boost yields from vineyards in the Canberra region, after some of the region’s toughest successive years. Using a multispectral camera to provide infrared imagery of plant growth, mapping neighboring vineyards will provide winemakers with comparative data on which grape varieties will stand the test of a changing climate. With several growers losing entire crops to January hailstorms and those who survived are now battling the effects of record summer rainfall, the AgriFutures-funded investment could provide a major boost to the industry. . Simon Stratton, of Norton Road Wines, said drone images could potentially train artificial intelligence to detect pests or diseases by comparing them to healthy images. Once the AI ​​is trained, it would identify when and where targeted intervention might be needed, allowing growers to reduce pesticide use, he said. “This offers the possibility of a significant shift in practices, labor and input costs,” Stratton said. Along with grape growers in South Australia and cotton growers in mid-west New South Wales, the Canberra District Viticulture Society is among those chosen to participate in an AgriFutures technology program in which a funding is provided to test new digital technologies. The drone costs over $8,000, with a grape-counting GoPro the next big-ticket item being considered. The wine company was expected to be able to share its data with the Australian Table Grape Growers Association in Mildura, which was specifically looking at the potential of AI as part of its current AgriFutures project. Mr Stratton said the first step for Canberra-area winemakers this vintage was to get some basic maps. “Once you’ve mapped a vineyard, you can essentially go back to that map and the drone will repeat the exact course again,” he said. “That way it will capture what’s happened over the growing season. The idea is to make three or four maps of each block, and then year by year we can compare what’s happening. This can be used to kind of monitor how different varieties are doing. ALSO READ: “For example, Mount Majura Vineyard is testing different Spanish grape varieties like Tempranillo and Albarino. They’ve basically replaced a lot of their more traditional varieties because they’re more suited to a drier type of climate.” Mr Stratton said his block was planted in the 1990s, which meant it would soon replace the vines. Data from the drone will be used to fill in gaps in the vineyard where a new row should be planted. It will also offer insight into the performance of individual rows. “We know these things by driving up and down or walking from top to bottom, but it gives us a real picture to work with as well,” he said. “While this technology is being tested around the world, it is now at a scale where smaller regions like ours can share this resource. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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