A team of viticulturists, plant physiologists and machine learning specialists have developed a prototype smartphone app that diagnoses nutritional disorders in grapevines.
They hope the app will one day provide growers with a ‘one stop shop’ to detect pests, diseases, abiotic stresses and herbicide damage.
Research team leader Dr Suzy Rogiers, a Principal Research Scientist, Plant Physiology with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, said symptoms for vine nutritional disorders could be particularly confusing because there weren’t many accurate images of them in the literature or field manuals.
“And what is out there doesn’t show symptom progression or cultivar differences,” she said.
She said the industry-wide issue prompted the team – consisting of viticulturists, plant physiologists and machine learning specialists from the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre and School of Computing and Mathematics at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales – to come up with a technical solution to help growers deal with symptom confusion.
“Vine nutrition is a very significant cost to the management of a vineyard, and if not handled correctly, yield and quality will suffer. So regardless of the growing region or climatic zone, it is important to address vine nutrition needs.”
As part of the project, the research team grew Chardonnay and Shiraz vines under different nutrient regimes to induce various symptoms. They then took hundreds of images of the symptoms.
“These images were then processed through machine learning and the nutrient content of the leaves were verified through laboratory analysis.”
Suzy said the advancement of image processing and machine learning had made it feasible to develop rapid tools to assess vine nutritional disorders using visual symptoms.
“An Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered smartphone app will give growers accurate, immediate and affordable diagnosis on the cause of various grapevine disorders.”
Suzy said industry feedback of the prototype app has so far been positive.
“The feedback from growers and winemakers is that they envisage this app to be a one stop shop to include pests and diseases and other abiotic stresses such as heat and cold stress, and herbicide damage.”
Suzy said the app currently focused on only a few disorders, but the team are investigating commercialisation partners.
“Once we have a commercial partner we can continue developing with more disorders so that it will become something very useful for the Australian wine sector” she said.