Harvest optimisation technology to remove Matter Other than Grape (MOG)
- Investors to scale adoption in Australia and to drive exports to international markets, focussing on the USA, South America & New Zealand.
Industry challenge: One of the side effects of mechanical grape harvesting is that leaves, stems and wood from the vines, known as Matter Other than Grape (MOG), is also harvested and subsequently goes into the grape bins. MOG ranges from 1-10% of the harvested material and causes a number of issues:
- it is costly to transport, extract, discard or repurpose as mulch
- once at the winery it may slow the throughput of the operation by up to 40% and will regularly impact critical machinery causing downtime and a significant operational cost
- MOG has detrimental impacts on the quality and value of the wine, creating undesirable bitter and green characteristics
- grapes already affected by smoke taint may be additionally adversely impacted by leaves, stems and canes that act as a carrier of smoke taint.
The current solution to removing MOG in the field is to invest in “selective” grape harvesters with integrated infield sorting equipment, which will typically cost $AU500-650K. These systems are limited in the volume they can handle and the maximum capacity is 15 t/hr, which at this level has significant impact on berry integrity, causing maceration and splitting.
Current opportunity: The Aussie Wine Group (AWG) has developed a harvest optimisation technology that removes MOG during the picking process. This ensures that only pure fruit is delivered to the winery, significantly improving the efficiency and quality of the wine making process, whilst removing what is currently a costly waste stream. The AWG infield sorter can be retrofitted to existing harvesters with a side discharge arm or attached on top of the grape bin/gondola with minimal cost outlay (approx. one tenth the cost) compared to having to buy a new harvester. There are currently four models available to adapt to different vineyard, grape and harvester needs, including boom units, bin units and in harvester units, to suit standard, premium and high volume picks. AWG have successfully trialled these units extensively across Australian wine regions over the past two vintages. Producers have been able to measure the tangible benefits of MOG removal, such as increased throughput through the winery processing systems. Wine makers have been especially pleased with the delivery of unmacerated and MOG free fruit picks, enabling greater wine quality outcomes.
In Australia, AWG have been running trials with key wineries and growers to obtain accurate ROI calculations to be able to market these savings throughout the industry. The sorters have been successfully trialled by a number of the leading wine producers in Australia. During the 2021 vintage, AWG and Wine Australia collected data to validate the AWG infield sorters and the benefits of clean fruit arriving at the winery. Using a combination of AWG premium and high volume sorters, AWG were successful in removing up to 97% of MOG harvested with a mere 0.02% MOG left in the sample. Picking a number of varieties in a number of different regions, on average for the duration of the trial AWG was able to achieve 87% reduction in MOG harvested and 0.22% MOG left in the sample.
These results were achieved with no loss of harvesting speed, no additional maceration to the grapes and no downtime due to blockage/breakdowns. The AWG sorters are designed to be retro-fitted to work in conjunction with harvesters with a side discharge arm, of which there are 9,000 across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile/Argentina and USA. Each harvester requires a minimum of two bins or gondolas during operation, thus the market opportunity in the wine industry alone is significant.
Other potential applications: This technology can assist in harvest automation and therefore would be attractive to national and international markets, particularly the US. Potential opportunities in the olive industry.
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