New app to measure water stress of grapevines

A new smartphone app that helps grape growers measure the water status of their vines is being trialed across Australia.

The portable viticultural tool has the potential to help grape growers make improved water management decisions for their vineyards.

Grape growers use a thermal camera attached to their smartphone to take images of the canopy of the grapevine. The image is analysed by the app, which calculates the vine water status.

The technology is being tested by 15 vineyards in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania for the rest of the growing season.

The Wine Australia-funded project is being led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA, in close collaboration with The University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Dr Kathy Ophel-Keller, Acting Executive Director of SARDI said, “Water and associated pumping costs can be a significant component of the production costs for grape growers.

“Uncontrolled water stress has the potential to reduce the yield and quality of grapes and the resulting wine, which in turn reduces the return to growers.

“The management of vine water status is a key tool for grape growers to regulate yield and optimise fruit quality and style.

“This new app offers grape growers instant feedback on the water status of their vines, and provides them with the flexibility to assess multiple blocks or sections of blocks, and to make irrigation decisions in real time.”

Dr Liz Waters, General Manager of Research, Development and Extension at Wine Australia said, “Irrigating effectively and efficiently helps to optimise vineyard production to produce high-quality wine grapes for fine Australian wines.

“Through many years of extensive research, methods have been developed to assess grapevine water status. This new app provides a portable solution to measure water status quickly and easily in the vineyard.

“‘The app allows growers to make informed irrigation decisions that support the production of high-quality fruit grown to specification.”

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