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9/12/2013

Changing the vineyard for climate change

Which is why University of Melbourne wine science lecturer Dr Sigfredo Fuentes and a team of researchers around the world are developing a project to better arm the industry against that change.

Vineyard of the Future (VoF) is being conducted in Australia, Chile, Spain and the US.

Its aim is to develop an integrated device to obtain thermal maps using a mobile system which captures spatial variability of water status within crops.

It also serves as a test-bed for new and emerging technologies which can be applied either for viticultural and oenology research or for practical applications to increase efficiency of management strategies.

While the program has only been running three years it has already made a lot of progress.

Fully-instrumented trial vineyards which consider the soil, plant and atmosphere continuum have been put in place to assist researchers while they study the effects of climate change and grapevine physiology.

Fuentes has been a member of the initiative since Australia jumped on board in 2011 with initial funding by the University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute (WRI).

The VoF was previously led by WRI professor Steve Tyerman but due to funding issues, Adelaide’s participation in the initiative has been put on hold until further notice.

Fortunately this didn’t bring the stop the project and Fuentes is still going full-steam ahead to take charge of the fight against global warming.

He said the future of viticulture and winemaking under a changing environment requires smarter approaches to assess potential impacts on grapevine growth, water status and the quality of fruit and wine.

Since joining the project, Fuentes has worked with long, short and proximal remote sensing using satellites, drones (multicopters) and robots.

He has also been exploring ideas to be incorporated into the VoF such as a robotic pourer for sparkling wine assessment using video and image analysis of foam stability.

This is to be associated with quality descriptors and protein content of wines.

Full story in January’s Grapegrower & Winemaker.

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