TEDx Melbourne Australia. Presentation of Digital Vineyards: https://www.researchgate.net/project/Digital-Vineyards
Tune in to Associate Professor Sigfredo Fuentes’ on ABC radio where he discusses his views on digital agriculture:
Interview starts at 2:06:00
– Australia as a key pioneer in digital agriculture, but with the lowest adoption by growers… why?
– The role of technology in providing farmers with access to digital agriculture
– How digital agriculture benefits farmers
Associate Professor Sigfredo Fuentes has been awarded the 2019 Australian Society of Plant Scientists (ASPS) teaching award. The award recognizes excellence, innovation (i.e. original and creative methods/student activities) and/or other contributions with successful learning outcomes to teaching plant science at University level.
The Australian Society of Plant Scientists (ASPS) is an incorporated society that promotes Plant Science in Australia. It provides professional contact within our community of tertiary and vocational lecturers and education specialists; primary & secondary school teachers; and researchers in the plant sciences.
He will be giving a presentation on teaching methods, innovations or contributions in the Science Communication and Education session at ASPS 2019. The conference will be held at La Trobe, Melbourne on the 26th-29th November.
Dr Sigredo Fuentes is a fellow of the Networked Society Institute (NSI) for Digital Agriculture, Food and Wine, Coordinator of Minor (AGRI90070 – 72 – 80 - 82) Research projects and Plant Growth and Processes (AGRI20026) as well as the International Coordinator of The Vineyard of The Future Initiative.
Amid the recent bushfires in Victoria, a winemaker watched as his winery in Tonimbuck – where he has lived in and worked at for 40 years – was destroyed by the blaze. Meanwhile, in northern NSW, the entire 2019 vintage of Topper’s Mountain Wines was lost just 5 hours before picking was scheduled to begin. 70% of the crop was destroyed in the fire whilst the remaining crop was ruined by smoke taint.
Considering the frequent nature of bushfires which are predicted to increase in frequency and severity, smoke taint is becoming an area of concern. When they happen around veraison, smoke contamination of grapevines and grapes can occur. This can result in unsaleable wines due to high levels of taint with associated financial losses for wine producers and on-flowing costs for future wine sales.
At the moment, there are no practical tools to determine which plants, vineyard sections or specific grape bunches have been affected by smoke contamination after a bushfire. This is where novel research involving remote sensing and machine learning comes in.
A trial to investigate the physiological effects of smoke contamination in four grapevine cultivars was established at a commercial vineyard in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills and at a research vineyard at the Waite campus of The University of Adelaide in the 2009-2010 season. The measurements which were taken into account included leaf conductance (gL), infrared thermography imaging (IRTI) and infrared index (Ig)2,3. Chemical analysis of the levels of the levels of smoke-related compounds from berries and resulting wine was also conducted. Results from the canopy level measurements showed that the changes in the pattern of gL within the canopies due to smoke contamination can be recognised using IRTI and Artificial Neural Networks (ANN). Furthermore, smoke-related compounds in berries and wine can be modelled using machine learning algorithms based on non-invasive near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) in berries. It took a few years to analyse the data using new and emerging tools for data analysis, such as new algorithms available in machine learning modelling. Now we are able to revisit data and generate useful models for growers (A. Prof. Sigfredo Fuentes from The University of Melbourne).
Hence, Machine learning algorithms and non-destructive measurements of grapevine canopies and berries alter bushfires for suspected smoke contamination offer powerful tools for growers to assess levels of contamination and to potentially map out affected areas. This information can be used to manage contamination in the field. By mapping contaminated grapevines, growers can perform differential harvests from non-affected areas to produce wines without smoke taint and avoid spoiling the whole production.
Research aside, it seems that amidst all the tragedy of bushfires, there is another light at the end of the tunnel for winemakers. Late last year, a Californian winery hit by a bushfire set out to make the best out of the tragedy. Smoke-tainted grapes were picked quickly and turned into raisins instead of being thrown away. The raisins ended up being “quite good, in fact, with no smoky notes — and contained the antioxidants of a glass of wine, but in concentrated, edible form.” Amazing!
At the end of the day, it is continual research and the dedication to absolute quality by winemakers that will ensure the minimisation of likelihood of a wine that you buy being contaminated by smoke.
Stay tuned on the blog for Parts 2 and 3 of the Tackling Smoke Taint series!
Bedford, M. (2019). Bushfire rips through Topper’s Mountain vineyard devastating rare wines on harvest day. ABC News.
Graham, B., Smith, R. and Loomes, P. (2019). Township ‘wiped off map’ as winemaker watches life’s work destroyed on live television. news.com.au.
Ogletree, K. (2018). Father-Son Duo Turns Ruined Grapes Into Tasty Aid For Napa Fire Victims. NPR.
‘Drones, yeah right,’ you might groan. For so long they have promised much to viticulture and delivered dubious benefits. But at the dawn of a new IT revolution for agriculture, one of the field’s leading researchers is confident that’s all about to change, particularly as machine learning smartens up how vineyard managers and consultants can apply the data captured.We invited University of Melbourne-based Senior Lecturer in Digital Agriculture, Food and Wine, Dr Sigfredo Fuentes, to share his insights.
— Read on www.syngenta.com.au/news/vineyard/spoilt-data-can-drones-really-help-grape-and-wine-production