Detector drones to help grape growers
VIGNERONS in Australia could have access to dronepowered technology to detect smoke taint in grapes this bushfire season.
Preliminary models will be presented at a conference in Argentina at the end of the month before being trialled in South Australia in December and January.
Developers of the models are hoping to have something available for use in vineyards by March.
“The model will recognise and map which parts have been contaminated and which parts have not,” University of Melbourne researcher Sigfredo Fuentes said.
Smoke taint can be a serious issue for grape growers as it affects the quality of wine, often forcing it to be discarded.
Dr Fuentes said he developed the algorithms that can interpret information collected by sensors mounted on drone because there was nothing like it available.
He said the model would help growers separate out parcels of grapes that might be more affected by smoke than others.
“The program assesses pixel by pixel and transforms the data you obtain into a meaningful parameter, for example, contamination or no contamination, or low, medium and high contamination,” he said.
Dr Fuentes said all the field work for the project had so far been done in China because of lower costs but trials would e conducted in partnership with the University of Adelaide to test precision in local conditions.