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Wine industry soon to have smartphone app advising on irrigation and harvesting

Cara Jeffery, Wednesday December 13, 2017 - 13:58 EDT
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Professor Alain Deloire is involved in developing a smartphone app that will help wine grape growers and winemakers decide when to irrigate and harvest. - ABC

The wine industry will soon have another tool at its fingertips to help navigate important on-farm decisions.

National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) director, Professor Alain Deloire, from Wagga Wagga, said a smartphone app is being developed by researchers with Wine Australia at Charles Sturt University (CSU).

The function of the app will be to help growers and winemakers make better decisions about their grapes by helping them identify the ideal window to pick fruit or make a particular wine style.

It will also assist in management of irrigation, thereby limiting berry water loss and potentially shrivelling.

The app works by the user taking a photograph of the grape bunch on the vine.

It will then analyse the image and automatically detect the number of berries on the bunch, their size and colour distribution.

"Within seconds, the user will have results," Dr Deloire said.

"This information will allow real-time assessment of berry growth and volume [and] yield loss, including shrivelling, bunch and vineyard homogeneity.

"[It will] decide on appropriate cultural practices such as irrigation, the optimal harvest window and fruit sorting or classification in the winery."

App is culmination of 15 years of research

Dr Deloire said trials of the app showed 80 per cent accuracy for assessment of the volume of grapes on the bunch.

He said the app was part of 15 years of berry ripening research and wine industry consultation.

"We expect the app will save the industry a lot of time and money," he said.

Dr Deloire anticipated there would be a working Android app prototype available for testing by the wine sector during the 2017 harvesting season.

"We want to show it to the industry and ask whether they will use it or whether it needs to be adapted in some way," he said.

"If it's a success, we would expect the final version would be launched to the market in 2018."


© ABC 2017

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