A new smartphone app is being trialled to help grapegrowers measure the water status of their vines and improve water management decisions at vineyards.
Grapegrowers use a thermal camera attached to their smartphone to take images of the grapevine. The image is then analysed by the app which calculates the vine’s water status.
The technology will be tested by 15 vineyards in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania for the rest of the growing season.
The app, which is funded by Wine Australia, is being led by South Australia Research and Development Institute in close collaboration with the University of New South Wales, which developed the app.
SARDI’s acting executive director Dr Kathy Ophel-Keller said water and associated pumping costs could be a significant production cost for grapegrowers.
‘‘Uncontrolled water stress has the potential to reduce the yield and quality of grapes and the resulting wine, which in turn reduces the return to growers,’’ she said.
‘‘This new app offers grapegrowers instant feedback on the water status of their vines, and provides them with the flexibility to assess multiple blocks or sections of blocks, and to make irrigation decisions in real time.’’
Wine Australia’s research, development and extension general manager Dr Liz Waters said effective and efficient irrigation helped to produce high-quality wine grapes.
‘‘Through many years of extensive research, methods have been developed to assess grapevine water status. This new app provides a portable solution to measure water status quickly and easily in the vineyard,’’ she said.
‘‘The app allows growers to make informed irrigation decisions that support the production of high-quality fruit grown to specification.’’
A final version of the app is expected to be released late this year.