What is precision viticulture or specific site ? This term (sometimes overused) describes the computerized management of the highest number of possible information concerning not so much a parcel but portions of the same: these portions can also be very small, depending on the needs that are proposed to investigate, until to reach the single grapevine.
In viticulture, especially hilly, it often occurs that within the same vineyard are found areas characterized by different composition and structure of the soil, from the presence of moisture , different lighting and microclimate: to these differences the crop responds accordingly, highlighting different states of physiological expression. The vegetative vigor strong> is the most obvious of these answers.
The great goal of precision viticulture is to know the status, health, vigor and physiological needs of the vines belonging to different areas of the vineyard to which the precise geographic coordinates have been identified (operation called georeferencing) and to adapt the cultivation techniques in a timely manner to the needs, so that the IT tools can help us manage a huge number of plants in a fully automated way. In this sense these techniques could be developed thanks to the Global Positioning System (GPS).
The new frontiers are represented on the one hand by remote sensing, on the basis of which georeferenced thematic maps can be constructed indicative of the vegetative state of the vineyard (and consequently, the prescription cards of cultural operations of different value in areas of the vineyard that are not homogeneous); on the other hand, the possibility of managing these variable-rate cultivation operations automatically through communication with the company's GIS conducted with modern electronic such as GPRS or others.
How to build a vigor map: from an aircraft (plane, helicopter, space satellite) an image of the ground is taken with a special multispectral camera: for each pixel of the image is detected by means of special sensors the intensity of reflection of solar light from the vegetation; the purpose of hyperspectral remote sensing is to establish a correspondence between the quantity and quality of the reflected or emitted energy and the nature or state of the bodies, or surfaces, from which the energy comes.
The percentage of incident radiant energy that is reflected (reflectance) is determined by the geometric structure of the surfaces, by the nature and by the composition of the bodies (they influence the reflectance, for example, the water content of a soil or vegetation or the content of solid particles suspended in a water body) and by the presence of pigments. Chlorophyll strongly absorbs radiant energy at wavelengths around 0.45 μm (blue) and 0.65 μm (red), while reflecting the green radiation, around the wavelength of 0.55 μm and, even more so in the near infrared region.
This data can be processed in different ways. For many years American researchers had proposed an index (NDVI = Normalized Differential Vegetation Index ) which has proved to be a solid and sufficiently reliable tool to represent the physiological situation of the vine and today is the most used in commercial applications.
Normally, in areas of low vigor it corresponds to a production of grapes that are lower quantitatively with better quality and early ripening, the opposite in areas with high vigor.
The vigor map can then be used to make harvest choices in a vineyard or in a large area (for example for members of a social winery where the scheduling of the harvest is always an problem difficult to solve). The thematic maps of interest of the winemaker (in addition to the NDVI vigor index) can be the most varied and cover yields per surface, acidity, sugars, polyphenols, anthocyanins etc. A great opportunity in addition to the harvest for the use of vigor maps is the possibility of carrying out vineyard cultivation operations not in a generalized manner on the whole but in a targeted manner, possibly by machine with VRT technology (variable rate technology) : we can speak of precision farming machines when they are equipped with a " Geographic Intelligence em>", this can provide differentiated performances according to the point in which they are located, on the basis of a loaded prescription map on board or sensors operating in real time.
Our company Spezia Srl , in collaboration also with Antinori Agricola and Same has developed the first fertilizer spreaders for vineyards with variable rates intended for mass production.
Suppose we can field variable-dose canopy machines. The grape harvesting machines can be equipped to separate upstream the best quality grapes from the other, Braud New Holland has conquered the Innovation Palmares at the SITEVI in Montpellier 2009 with an application of this type.
As we have seen from this analysis at the moment the market offers only a few applications, however, already able to foreshadow the immense potential hidden in this type of applications, and now expect the interest and response from the end user so such to create that virtuous circle that makes the technology, already available, a real practical opportunity able to guarantee the winemaker tangible benefits in the face of sustainable and continuously decreasing costs.
For this reason, AGRIPRECISIONE.IT is born: a website that wants to be not only a showcase of products and services, but a place where technicians can be scientifically documented on the state of the art of this technology and where to know our commercial proposal regarding the products and operations: from the production of thematic maps, to the devices for their use, to the operating machines, whether they are newly constructed or are modified by already existing machines and made suitable to operate with technology at a rate variable, the new frontier of agriculture.