Wine is and will always be an unquestionable trend. Not only representing one of the most consumed beverages in the world, but also conforms to part of the history, culture, and traditions within the European continent. In regards to food consumption, it is designated, as well, as an integral part of the Mediterranean diet – one the healthiest ones in the world according to the World Health Organization and recognized as an Intangible Heritage by UNESCO. But wine has a story, starting in the vines of most countries with viticulture tradition.
Viticulture – as every other agricultural practice – has been developed and adapted along the years to the course of this world and humanity. Rise of demand, development of new varieties, climate change and technology are aspects that have an enormous impact on the agri sector. But what makes the wine sector deserve a closer approach?
The level of precision needed from vine to wine is probably what differentiates this crop from others, strongly depending on each factor surrounding the vine or labor applied to the wine-making process. The need of planning the features shaping the final product starts by defining the crop’s design, applying labors, and ripening control to get the desired polyphenolic and sugar levels which allows the wine to be subjected for different purposes, such as aging. All based on the annuity of the crop, meaning there is only one opportunity per year to be successful.
“Thus, differentiated management based on a sectorization-basis will positively impact the destiny of the vines.”
The level of popularity mentioned above goes along with a rise in the acreage of vines in recent years, being a number of 23,680 ha authorized to be planted in Spain just in 2020. Regarding the tight timing in which the process must be fit in to avoid every possible alteration of the grape, the idea of crop homogenization probably suggests higher efficiency in time and cost-saving. Nevertheless, this fact hinders the optimum profit of the vineyard, being subjected to the spatiotemporal variability along the “soil-plant-environment” system. Thus, differentiated management based on a sectorization-basis will positively impact the destiny of the vines.
Nowadays, precision viticulture applies cutting edge technology to meet this need, by handling the existent information about the variety and its crop’s development, in order to optimize resources, as well as the decision-making process. Monitoring labors, ripening control, harvesting or even the wine-making process in the cellar, can provide that level of precision. This allows standardizing the vineyards’ production within different management and quality plots, meeting its exact needs of irrigation, fertilization, or prevention and control of prone diseases, thus avoiding endangering the rest of the production.
The use of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), remote sensing or geographic information systems will offer enough data to calculate the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), in which the viticulturer will be able to base several just-in-time decisions, as the moment of the harvest or treatments to be applied in the short run. This allows us to acquire detailed analytics in a limited period for the need of this crop’s precision, as every action count for the wine’s optimum production.
Although requiring an important investment, the use of technology for these purposes carries economic benefits, being the costs of generally 0.5% of the final production’s value. Moreover, facilities such as the possibility of carrying night harvests – low temperatures during the harvest are important for keeping acidity levels to the standards needed – enforce the election of this management’s method by many wine businesses, nowadays.
“Technology can not only grant added value to the final product, but also to the process, and most importantly to the awareness of the process”
It is important to mention that technology can not only grant added value to the final product, but also to the process, and most importantly to the awareness of the process. Using technology like “BlockChain” and QR codes, allows us to know about the traceability of the product, and can assure a total warranty of the process security and consciousness of all the stages, from vine to wine, from viticulturer to customer.
In a business that represents 26.4% of beverage consumption in the world, it is easy to understand the large number of decisions made and their repercussions at the producer level during the vines cultivation process. Integrating and properly using new technologies are a great ally in reducing economic and environmental risks globally. Efficiency, productivity, profitability and awareness in a sector where consequences of decisions are infinite.
Good harvests are predicted.
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