Viticulture and technology
Although wine-making is viewed as a traditional profession dating back over 6000 years, it nevertheless welcomes the emergence of new technologies.
Vineyard work can be difficult and wine-makers are intently curious about tools helping them to pursue a land-enhancement strategy. Before it was the tractor and today it’s drones and automated devices which have taken over!
- On the ground: automated GPS-controlled robots for mowing the grass which leave and return automatically to their shed. As they mostly equipped with solar panels, they are energy efficient. However this technology must be limited to vineyards which are flat and smooth making Châteauneuf du Pape an unlikely candidate with all its stones!
- In flight: they can quickly sail over vineyards, sending data which facilitates analyzing the overall condition of the vines: producing thermal data to detect areas suffering from drought, programmes which can detect the outbreak of diseases or parasites, and analyzing how ripe grapes are in order to specify harvest dates.
These devices tend to be limited to larger wine estates given their high price but these technologies are becoming more popular due to the non-negligible benefits they offer. Notably present around sorting tables where the optical sensors are able to eliminate grapes which are either too ripe, or not ripe enough. They can now penetrate into the vineyards with prototypes of automatic GPS- or remote-controlled tractors when they are equipped with cameras.
They notably allow to improve the spraying efficiency of treated products:
- More localized weeding: the sensors “check” that there is indeed grass before beginning to spray meaning product savings of around 40%,
- Opening of sprayers only along the specific rows as opposed to tractors which spray in vain while the driver turns the machine around to go down a new row.
All these new tools will never replace a wine-makers experience but they can, nevertheless, help to manage the vineyards in a more efficient and ecological manner.
For more information on Rhone wines, please visite : www.vins-rhone.com