Droning the vines, microspectural cameras and other 21st c tools

Vineyards in Lavaux at dusk, 14 November: soil, climate, slope, exposure and geology studies may soon benefit from new scientific tools

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Drones are the rage and have been for a while in the US and Australia, for learning more about vineyards at the micro level, a report done by the BBC says, but now wine grape growers are turning to newer tools such as microspectural cameras that rapidly provide data which can be analyzed by computer.

The new tools, David Green, a specialist at the University of Aberdeen told the BBC, could replace traditional ones such as soil sampling.

Soil sampling is just one part, however, of multilayered efforts to finetune our knowledge of vineyards. The federal research station at Changins, in canton Vaud, working with the EPFL in Lausanne and then Valais growers starting in 2000, with Valais growers, has been creating detailed pictures of the cantons’ terroirs. To draw up the maps and provide detailed information researchers in Valais, for example, 3,500 “observations” and 450 profiles were needed to study 5,000 hectares of vines: their soil, geology, climate, slope and exposure.

Given the databases that now exists, new technology, including thermal cameras, might be affordable even for vineyards that don’t operate on the scale of the huge New World ones.