Making practical use of aerial imagery

RD&A News | September 2020
11 Sep 2020
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A novel social media campaign is helping SA Central growers, viticulturists and winemakers better identify and understand the practical value of remotely-sensed aerial imagery throughout the season.

‘Aerial imagery is an increasingly affordable and useful digital tool for growers, and can be used to identify a vineyard’s average areas, highlight areas of significant variability, highlight irrigation issues and identify areas of the vineyard that are struggling’, said Lian Jaensch, Executive Officer of Langhorne Creek Grape and Wine.

As part of SA Central’s Resourcing Growers for the Future project, supported through Wine Australia’s Regional Program, region-wide imagery was taken by a Cessna in 2019, just before vintage.

‘We now have that imagery from the air at a per vine resolution of less than one metre, and from that data we have developed six case studies in pictorial format to demonstrate how vineyard imagery and field technologies are being used by growers in the region.’

The case studies – distributed via social media – build up a picture of the uses of aerial imagery throughout the season, based around identified themes of:

  • Irrigation – spotting where irrigation leaks are; identifying where to locate the soil moisture sensor; and identifying any irrigation design issues, such as low flow rate.
  • Tackling vineyard variability – targeted mulching and ripping; variable rate composting.
  • Soil health – soil testing of weakest areas; where to dig soil pits.
  • In season management – driving irrigation planning; directing where to petiole test; variable rate foliar nutrition; identifying where there is summer weed pressure; directing pest and disease monitoring.
  • Winemaking – directing where to shoot thin; identifying which areas to pick for specific wines.

‘We hope the campaign will help the sector better make use of imagery in the future and start growers on a path of agtech for their business’, Lian said.

In other activities for SA Central:

  • The EcoVineyard Project, a combined effort from the Wine Grape Council of South Australia and Mary Retallack from Retallack Viticulture, continues. The project incorporates native insectary plants to create biodiverse ecosystems in and around vineyards. These plants support populations of insect predators, which contribute towards biocontrol of vineyard pests and may ultimately lead to reduced input costs and chemical use. In its most recent phase, high resolution, large format templates for interpretive signage have been created for EcoVineyard growers to install on-site, promoting the biodiversity aims of their projects while focussing on ‘hero’ species of insectary plants in an engaging and educational manner. Six signs will be installed across SA Central EcoVineyard sites in 2020–21. The template files, standard content and style guide will be promoted and made available via the EcoVineyards project to all participating regions in SA bolstering the valuable collateral of this project.
  • A Practical Viticulture Expo will be held 22 and 23 September at Longview Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills. The expo offers a chance for growers to focus on viticulture innovations and practices with a seminar program, demonstration program, and supplier expo.
  • The successful Focus Vineyards model will continue in McLaren Vale and be expanded to sessions in the Adelaide Hills and Langhorne Creek.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

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