Technological innovation helps measure water stress of grapevines

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 25th January 2017

The water stress vine app in use

A new Australian developed smartphone app is helping grapegrowers easily measure the water status of their vines.

The app, which is still in trial, aims to make water management decisions easier for grapegrowers.

The app works in conjunction with a thermal camera which is attached to the users smartphone. The camera takes images of the canopy of grapevines which are than analysed by the app to calculate the vine water status.

The app has been funded by Wine-Australia and its development is led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA, in close collaboration with The University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Approximately 15 vineyards across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania are currently testing out the app.

Dr Kathy Ophel-Keller, Acting Executive Director of SARDI, said water and associated pumping costs can be a significant component of the production costs for grapegrowers.

“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,” Dr Ophel-Keller said.

“The management of vine water status is a key tool for grapegrowers to regulate yield and optimise fruit quality and style. This new app offers grapegrowers 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,” she said.

Dr Liz Waters, General Manager of Research, Development and Extension at Wine Australia said, ‘Irrigating effectively and efficiently helps to optimise vineyard production to produce high-quality winegrapes.

“Through many years of extensive research, methods have been developed to assess grapevine water status. This new app provides a portable solution to measure water status quickly and easily in the vineyard,” she stated.


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