A WIRELESS sensor system to maximise vineyard irrigation efficiency will begin field trials in January.
SmartVine, developed in South Australia by TK SmartTech, will utilise a network of sensors to collect data on soil, crop health and moisture from across a vineyard.
Using SmartVine’s software, vignerons can then assess and manage their irrigation zones using a central system on their laptop, smartphone or tablet.
TK SmartTech Co-director Tenzin Crouch said the package would allow growers to optimise watering solutions based using a series of algorithms.
“You basically end up with a map of the vineyard which shows the areas that are most productive,” he said.
“That way we can easily map the optimum watering to the right type of soil, and work out where your inputs need to go.
“We’ll be running some algorithms for the farmers, based around what agronomists suggest, and that that will eliminate the farmer’s need to interpret all this complicated data - they’ll just get some really simple outputs.”
The data from SmartVine will allow growers to more effectively determine optimum watering patterns, reducing waste in the vineyard.
“Of course water is one of the biggest costs for any grower, and it’s a really critical part of the growing process as well,” Crouch said.
“It’s really important to make sure you get the right amount of stress to get the optimum grape, which comes back to how you’re watering.”
While SmartVine can automate the irrigation process based off its algorithms, data gathered using the software can also be sent to other experts for analysis.
Vignerons can then set up watering schedules using the program, based on the individual needs of their crop.
“We’re basically trying to give the grower the tool to make that decision themselves,” Crouch said.
“Our algorithms will be useful to get a good baseline, but sometimes your farmer might want a specific profile, or something based off what their winemaker has said.
In its current form, the sensors will connect to a private system, but as Internet of Things technology grows, SmartVine will take advantage of the rapidly expanding network.
One McLaren Vale vineyard is already locked for the January trial but TK SmartTech is still looking to recruit growers in the Barossa Valley and Riverland regions.
Trials will continue until after harvest with SmartVine with expected to be commercially available by June 2017.
Crouch and fellow TK SmartTech director Kai Harrison recently completed an entrepreneurial course through Flinders University’s New Venture Institute where they were also finalists in a pitch competition with their SmartVine system.
IoT developer Thinxtra announced this month it would partner with the South Australian Government to roll out a statewide network by mid-2017.