19 March, 2019

Smartphone apps could revolutionise winemaking

Smartphone apps could revolutionise winemaking

Reporting by Naomi Kaplan

Smartphone apps could make wine production far more productive.

It feels like every time we blink, there's new technology being developed to make our lives ‘easier’ or more ‘productive’. Now, there’s even an app being developed to make grape growing and wine production more efficient.

Funded by Wine Australia, the app was created by scientists at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in collaboration with The University of New South Wales.

The new app in the works measures the water status of vines so that grape growers can know when their vines are healthiest and juiciest.

But how can a phone do such a thing?

A thermal camera attached to a smartphone takes images of the grapevine’s canopy to be analysed by the app, and ultimately calculate the vine’s water status.

Paul Petrie, a viticultural scientist with SARDI believes the app will allow growers to assess multiple blocks, or sections of blocks, without having to install anything on their property.

"Not all growers will necessarily have soil-based systems installed as these systems are relatively expensive to fit up and maintain," he told the ABC.

"You've got to drill holes into the ground and mount the sensors into the ground, whereas the app is as portable as your mobile phone.

"You can take an assessment of your canopy and you can say 'no, it's managing well, the weather forecast isn't too hot for tomorrow so I'm just going to hold off [watering]'.

The app is currently being trialled by 15 wine grape growers in South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Tasmania for the remainder of the growing season.

There was also a smartphone app developed back in February called VitiCanopy, which helps grapegrowers and viticulturists manage their vines by offering measurements of vine canopy size and density.

The app, created by scientists at the University of Adelaide, and also funded by Wine Australia, allows users to monitor vines and manage the required balance between vegetative growth and fruit production, and also identifies the canopy parameters that indicate ideal vine performance.

The Apple version has been downloaded more than 2000 times worldwide since its release in October 2015, and an Android version is now available due to positive user feedback.

Stay tuned to see what the future of wine growers will hold.