A drone flies over an almond farm. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - A Cape Town Agri-Tech start-up company has held a post-harvest vineyard management workshop in Paarl to educate farmers and the agricultural industry on how to use the latest innovations in precision agriculture.

Aerobotics head of agronomy Devin Osborne said: “A lot of farmers are misled into believing that the variation in vineyards contributes to the uniqueness of the wine and start talking about terroir.”

He said the key to growing world-class grapes and producing an excellent wine was obtaining uniformity.

He also made recommendations on when farmers should use drone technology. “The first drone flight of the season should be done at first leaf. The second drone flight should happen during flowering and fruit set, while the third drone flight should be conducted during fruit ripening.”

He said the use of Aerobotics to obtain and process data from these flights would enable farmers to monitor early season growth, evaluate bud break and locate deficiencies in vine resources. According to Osborne, there is also important use for drone flights after the harvest is completed.

“The data and analytics can be used to locate vines and blocks that are stressed after the harvest.

“This enables wine farmers to create zonal maps for representative sampling and also helps them to prune moderately on less fertile zones and harder on more fertile zones.

“Partnering with Aerobotics to capture and process the data from post-harvest drones flights empowers farmers to build a solid foundation for the next season.”

Aerobotics processes data from drone and satellite imagery through its proprietary artificial intelligence software to discover and analyse problems.

In addition, the software also measures size, height and canopy volume.

“Our drones and cameras are both calibrated and have an on-board GPS and compass to ensure accuracy. We also have a sunlight sensor mounted on the drone to ensure the imagery can be used to compare data over time.

“Aeroview allows farmers to geo-reference any irrigation issues in the field and our per tree canopy area calculations allow farmers to monitor the growth of their trees.”

Aerobotics uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect problematic areas early on.

“This data guides farmers to problematic areas, so that they can apply the corrective measures in a time frame that does not cause economic damage to their produce.”

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