Researchers from the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) are developing a new smartphone app to assess and manage nutrient disorders in the vineyard.
It’s part of a project funded by Wine Australia, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and Charles Sturt University that aims to give grape growers timely information to improve vine health and productivity.
NSW DPI principal research scientist Dr Suzy Rogiers said vine nutrition can impact on growth, crop yield, berry composition, and wine quality.
‘Assessing grapevine nutrient disorders using visual symptoms can be confusing’, Dr Rogiers said.
‘Field manuals are available to help with the diagnosis, but the images of the symptoms are not variety specific and do not show their progression.’
The research team has developed a proto-type smartphone-based imaging tool with underlying artificial intelligence (AI) and hopes to test it with growers in the next few months.
‘With this app, a grower can walk along the row of vines and using their smart phone take images of the disorder’, Dr Rogiers said.
‘The app will use underlying AI to immediately diagnose the problem and then provide links to fact sheets and other information sources on how to best deal with the issue.’
Charles Sturt postdoctoral research fellow Dr Tintu Baby said the project has brought together viticulture scientists from the NWGIC with experts in machine learning from the Charles Sturt School of Computing and Mathematics.
‘We are creating an image library of symptoms by growing vines in solutions that have either too much or too little of a particular nutrient then photographing the disorders as they progress over time’, Dr Baby said.
‘So far we’ve been able to create symptoms of magnesium, potassium, iron, and nitrogen deficiency and boron toxicity, in Chardonnay and Shiraz.
Dr Tintu Baby and Dr Suzy Rogiers
‘These images are being used to develop and train the algorithms that will perform the diagnosis.’
The app is still at an early stage of development but it’s anticipated it will be able to be used by grape growers in conjunction with petiole tissue sampling to diagnose nutrient disorders.
The NWGIC is an alliance between Charles Sturt, NSW DPI and the NSW Wine Industry Association.