Now is the time to plan for smoke taint, extreme weather and other climate events

Predictive Agricultural company, Agrology, issued their 2021 Agrology Smoke Exposure Report for Sonoma and Napa counties to the public.

This industry report looks broadly at the smoke exposure across both counties based on proprietary and public data collected throughout the region in 2021 and is a subset of the type of information provided to Agrology customers at the end of their growing seasons.

“We are relieved that in 2021 California wineries overall did not experience the levels of smoke taint risk that threatened the industry in 2020,” said Adam Koeppel, CEO of Agrology.

“However, given the impact of smoke in past years, growers should begin to prepare for the upcoming growing season by installing technology to monitor crops not only for wildfires, but for drought and extreme weather conditions as well.”

Overall, in the 2021 report measured low smoke exposure in vineyards and measured brief Air Quality Index (AQI) events likely due to wildfires.

In addition to PM2.5 and PM1 monitoring, this year Agrology deployed agricultural environment hardened outdoor Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) monitoring sensors, a first in the agricultural world.

The Agrology sensors sit on the trellis, inside the canopy by the fruit, and are capable of detecting the VOCs that are often thought to cause smoke taint, instead of just fine particle correlations.

Agrology also pulls satellite imagery to visually verify smoke presence over regions, then alerts customers immediately when smoke is detected.

The major smoke exposure events this season resulted from distant wildfire smoke, which posed less risk of smoke taint.

Additionally, the exposure periods corresponded with dynamic weather patterns and shifting winds, preventing the smoke from descending and dwelling in areas like Napa and Sonoma for extended periods of time.

Preliminary lab testing results confirmed Agrology’s data and analysis, with grape lab test guaiacol levels decreasing throughout the season and early microferments not exhibiting smoke taint.

Agrology’s ground truth sensors gather the right data on heat, soil and air moisture, VOCs, and weather events, artificial intelligence (AI) is then applied to the data to predict future events and issues.

While Agrology said they were thrilled to share their industry report, the company acknowledged that granular data is critical for growers.

Agrology provided customers with a custom report at the end of the growing season that reviewed their annual smoke exposure and risks, down to the subsections of their vineyard blocks.

The reporting allows customers to compare and contrast results from multiple years, giving them a clear picture of air quality and smoke issues in their vineyards and fields.

“In the era of climate change, predictive agriculture may be the only route to saving the wine industry and specialty crops,” Koeppel added.

“The next climate change story is about the solutions available to help growers predict and mitigate the issues that are impacting their businesses.”

Agrology’s solution relies on installing smaller nodes directly in the row at a high density, which enables the system to better identify temperature differentials.

The process begins by tracking the standard temperature differentials in each zone and overtime build predictions, giving farmers 3-7 days of advance notice when microclimates could change.

The app then sends farmers notifications on their mobile devices, pinpointing the exact locations at risk and allowing farmers to take action ahead of time.

The Agrology sensor nodes install in less than 10 minutes and users have access to their data through the app, even when their phone is off network in a field.

In addition, data refreshes every 30 minutes and Agrology models curate intuitive and easy to implement alerts and insights that are sent directly to the mobile app.


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