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Accurate maps will show the path to technology’s treasures

Airborne Logic setting up an accurate ground control point for drone based mapping of a vineyard

Airborne Logic setting up an accurate ground control point for drone based mapping of a vineyard

By Oli Madgett, Hans Loder, Che Wightwick, Ian Beecher-Jones, John Bryant and Matic Serc

Requirements for the management of vineyard data are ever increasing, particularly in the regulated areas of spray records and grape offtake agreements. Records have typically been required at the block level, but as technology, sensors and field collected data rapidly becomes more sophisticated, it will be necessary to manage vineyard data differently. The Collabriculture initiative is working to develop a standard approach to creating digital twins of vineyards. Accurately mapped vineyards will provide several benefits, particularly in the area of data management, which will be critical to maximise insights that growers can extract from their data.

As growers are increasingly being asked to supply digital maps of their vineyards, whether it be as a part of the certification process for the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program, for Vinehealth Australia’s records, for agtech solutions such as Swan Systems irrigation software or DataFarming’s high resolution vine vigour imagery, an accurately mapped vineyard can reduce the need to for growers to redraw their vineyard blocks on each proprietary platform. Furthermore, as the array of sensors being used in the vineyard increases, this practicality dictates that this data will need to be linked automatically to a block, but likely also a row or vine in order to be practically useful.

Examples of this are already available, with the next wave of tractor mounted computer vision technology from startups like Bitwise Agronomy able to measure shoot length, map unproductive cordonand carry out bunch counts on the fly.

This need for accurate, useful and shareable digital maps of vineyards was one of the main drivers behind the #Collabriculture project, and the most recent workshop, supported by Wine Australia, focused on surveying of vineyards, both from the air and on the ground, and how to create a standardised approach.

Australian firm Airborne Logic are tackling this using a DJI drone platform as well as RTK calibrated ground control points to create detailed vineyard maps with survey grade 2cm accuracy. Their mapping not only captures block boundaries, but at this level are also able to identify each row and vine within a block.

Ian Beecher-Jones at The Digital Vineyard in England has been working with the team at eVineyard to refine a desktop approach to being able to scalably survey vineyards on the ground and then create accurate maps in the eVineyard platform. The objective is to be able to create digital infrastructure, which can be exchanged with other service providers using the #Collabriculture data structure to ensure compatibility and flexibility.

His mapping approach involved surveying all corners in a vineyard block using a survey pole mounted GPS positioned at the strainer post. This corner point was used to create AB lines at the designated row  spacing, to project rows across the remainder of the block.

Once vine spacing and the number of vines per full panel were entered into the eVineyard software, it enabled the positions of all the vines and posts on a block to be logarithmically created, and for the block boundary to be drawn (half a row width) on the outside of the vine rows.

Airborne Logic digitally mapping out the location of every vine on each row
Airborne Logic digitally mapping out the location of every vine on each row
Airborne Logic mapping data against each vine
Airborne Logic mapping data against each vine
Airborne Logic automatically identifying unproductive vines
Airborne Logic automatically identifying unproductive vines

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Standardising digital vineyard infrastructure

The team are standardising this digital vineyard infrastructure data exchange process as a part of the ATLAS (H2020) project in the EU*. The value of working to standards around mapping can be seen in other industries such as construction, where the A-SPEC data specifications** ensure that the correct data around infrastructure assets is consistently captured in the correct format. The #Collabriculture community are working to put in place the same level of rigour and standardisation around vineyard mapping.

Closing the loop on accurate and open mapping of vineyards, let alone the world’s streets, has laid the foundations for innovation by the likes of Google, Apple and Uber. The team at EarthSQL are joining the dots in viticulture by creating the database structures and processes to link data sourced from tractor mounted computer vision, aerial imagery and grower collected data to the relevant vine along a row. Practical decisions can be made from insights derived in easy-to-use software such as Power BI, rather than needing specialised GIS platforms.

The next step on the #Collabriculture journey will be to share the potential of open GIS platforms for display and interrogation of key vineyard mapping layers. It will also demonstrate the power of using database structures in conjunction with these, not only for ensuring the integrity of data but importantly, simplifying the way in which data can be collected in the field.

The #Collabriculture project is open to everyone to be a part of. To subscribe to updates and invites to future workshops, please go to collabriculture.com. Technical documents are also openly available at https://github.com/CollabricultureOrg/

eVineyard survey points at the corners of a block
eVineyard survey points at the corners of a block
eVineyard software automatically drawing in rows
eVineyard software automatically drawing in rows
AB lines to automatically generate post positions across the block in eVineyard
AB lines to automatically generate post positions across the block in eVineyard
Global Technologies Australia vineyard survey points and lines
Global Technologies Australia vineyard survey points and lines
Global Technologies Australia survey pole marking a strainer post as the starting point of a row
Global Technologies Australia survey pole marking a strainer post as the starting point of a row

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References

* www.atlas-h2020.eu/1st-open-call-meet-our-winners-evineyard/

** www.a-specstandards.com.au

Oli Madgett has a family vineyard in the McLaren Vale wine region and is the co-founder of AgTech start-up Platfarm. Additionally, Oli runs Adelaide AgTech meet-ups, and is a member of the AgTech advisory board for PIRSA. He is also an AgTech mentor and has used his vineyard for tech trials, including with the University of Adelaide and CSIRO. Email: [email protected]

Che Wightwick is a database geologist with 20 years’ experience in the exploration and mining industry. Che takes a pragmatic approach to building and maintaining reliable value driven data systems. Che is the founder of EarthSQL, after having worked previously with Pasminco, Bemax, ioGlobal, Whittle Consulting and MMG. Email: [email protected]

John Bryant has been a GIS specialist for 25 years with a particular focus on open source geospatial software and open data, working in many disciplines, including cultural mapping, tourism and mining. He was the founding chair of OSGeo Oceania, and is passionate about working with communities to build a shared vision for a human-centred future. Email: [email protected]

Ian Beecher-Jones is a vineyard owner in the UK who has been involved in precision farming for 15 years in the broadacre sector and has worked with New Holland, Case IH and Trimble customers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK with data management processes. He is wanting to take that experience to establish accurate digital infrastructure in vineyards so they can utilise and maximise the opportunities from the dynamic AgTech market in vineyards. He’s a leading advocate of precision viticulture techniques with WineGB in the UK. Email: [email protected]

Hans Loder is a geologist and viticulturist with 20+ years’ field experience in collecting, managing and using data to extract insights. He’s a 2021 recipient of a Wine Australia funded Nuffield scholarship entitled “Here come the robots, but what do we do with the data?” Hans is researching practical data management solutions for viticulturists. He is also viticulturist for Penley Estate Coonawarra, where he’s continually pushing convention and leveraging technology, in order to ensure viticultural integrity and sustainability. Email: [email protected]

Matic Serc has more than 15 years of experience with innovation management and software development, with the last seven years being focused on the area of digital solutions for agriculture, particularly viticulture. He is a CEO of the company Elmibit from Slovenia, developing eVineyard software, and is actively involved in various technology innovation activities on a national, European and global level. Email: [email protected]