A thermal camera is attached to a smartphone, which takes images of the canopy of the grapevine. The app can analyse the image to calculate the vine water status.
The tool has the potential to help grapegrowers make better water management decisions and optimize fruit quality. A final version of the app is due to be released later this year.
Optimizing grape and wine quality
Funded by Wine Australia, the project is led by the South Australian Research & Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA, in collaboration with The University of New South Wales (UNSW).
Water and pumping costs can be a significant factor for grapegrowers. Meanwhile, uncontrolled water stress can reduce the yield and quality of grapes (and, in turn, the wine).
Dr Liz Waters, general manager of research, development & extension at Wine Australia said: “Irrigating effectively and efficiently helps to optimise vineyard production to produce high-quality winegrapes for fine Australian wines.
“This new app provides a portable solution to measure water status quickly and easily in the vineyard. It allows growers to make informed irrigation decisions that support the production of high-quality fruit grown to specification."
As part of the 18-month project, a number of sensing systems were tested. The thermal camera was found to offer the most accurate information as well as being the easiest to use.