Precision Viticulture

Precision viticulture is the application of precision agriculture in the vineyard. It is precision farming applied to optimize vineyard performance, in particular, maximizing grape yield and quality while minimizing environmental impacts and risk. The term is used in conjunction with GPS, sensors, and some agronomic research and trials. This is accomplished by measuring the local variation in factors that influence grape yield and quality (soil, topography, vine health, etc.) and applying appropriate viticulture management practices (trellis design, fertilizer application, irrigation, the timing of harvest, etc.). It is simply a term describing a set of practices and technologies that answer the following question to the farmer or vintner: What to do, Where, and When – to optimally work towards the desired goal.

“Precision viticulture is unique in its emphasis on vineyard management according to local variation, and in its use of science and technology to accomplish this.”

Precision viticulture is based on the premise that high in-field variability for factors that affect vine growth and grape ripening warrants intensive management customized according to local conditions. A good example is irrigation, or pest monitoring: to know when to apply water, or pesticides, one must first know how dry the soil is – or how strong the pest pressure is.

Precision viticulture depends on new and emerging technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), meteorologic and other environmental sensors, satellite, and airborne remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS) to assess and respond to variability. With GPS, you can always determine your position, and adjust vineyard management according to the specifics of the vineyard zone in which you are.

Precision viticulture is unique in its emphasis on vineyard management according to local variation, and in its use of science and technology to accomplish this. With the desired level of precision, both GPS tracking and Sensor connection of different sensors can be used, to provide you with precise information that you can use to make an informed decision: what to apply, where, and when. While Australian viticulturists are generally recognized as leaders in precision viticulture, and while viticulturists worldwide have embraced the approach, the fundamental concepts have deep roots in the traditions of Old World winemaking regions.

Precision agriculture emphasizes “doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time”, and is practical for viticulture because of high local variability of conditions within vineyards, and because of responsiveness to intensive management in terms of increased grape yield and quality. This site-specific vineyard management maximizes the administration and production of each plant, accompanying the winemaker in all phases of his activity: we discover how.