Sensors, satellites, drones. It is not a science fiction film, but the future of viticulture.
More and more wineries that embrace technology to work not only with greater precision, but also in a much more sustainable way. And some have even managed to control their vineyards from space.
That is the case of the Galician Terras Gauda, who grows in the valley of O Rosal (Pontevedra) his vineyards of Albariño, Loureiro and Caíño Blanco under the watchful eye of Sentinel-2 satellite.
The winery, which leads in our country the European FOODIE project – with a budget close to 6 million euros, partners from eight countries (Austria, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia and Spain).
Now, also with the collaboration of the European Space Agency. It is able to collect, assimilate and interpret in real time through a software designed ‘ad hoc’ the information obtained by the sensors located in the vineyard and by the Sentinel-2 space satellite.
All this translates “into precision viticulture,” explains Emilio Rodríguez, a winemaker at Terras Gauda, while showing us how his software works.
“Here for example we can see all the plots that surround the winery, and here the treatments that have been done in the vineyard and in what areas have been applied. I have notifications that the software itself develops based on satellite data and sensors. If I open this one, for example, it tells me that there is an advance of Mildiu, the plague that affects us.”
Since FOODIE was launched, a project that involves collecting and reordering existing spatial information from COPERNICUS (Environmental Monitoring Program managed by the European Space Agency), GALILEO (Global Satellite Navigation System of the European Union), GBIF ( Global Biodiversity Information Infrastructure), INSPIRE (Spatial Information Infrastructure in Europe to support community environmental policies) or, among others, GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System).
Rodríguez admits that in Terras Gauda they have gained immediacy when making decisions.
“Before using this software we had to travel our 160 hectares of vineyards to know, for example, when we had to apply a fungicide. In addition, at the time of applying it, we had to do it in all the plots. Now we have gained time, money and we are also much more sustainable.”
The fact that they are much more sustainable says it because being able to act at any moment in any incident that occurs in the vineyard has managed to improve the state of the vineyard at key moments such as flowering, fruit set and ripening; positively influencing the quality, condition and production of the grape.
“The software helps me to reduce the use of phytosanitary treatments, the use of machinery, and to have the plots controlled one by one. If I didn’t use this, I would have to constantly go through all the farms, and I don’t have a crew of 100 men who can do it at all times.”
The same is also applicable to irrigation systems, since the software indicates to Rodriguez the areas with excess or lack of vigor, that is, the vineyard areas where there is a lot or little vegetation (a determining factor for grape quality).
Of course, it does not feed itself: “It gives work, but all the recommendations it makes me are effective because it tells me even in what areas maturation is more advanced and in which areas I can start harvesting.”
Remember that the data is open, that you do not have to pay for this information, that anyone can have access to it. This is not an exclusive project of Terras Gauda, but there is an interest behind the European Union to use these means that are free”.
And just like this technology can be applied to viticulture can also be applicable to the cultivation of potatoes.
“In the Czech Republic, for example, FOODIE is led by an agricultural farm that is dedicated to it,” Rodriguez concludes to explain the size of the project.