Wine Australia - ProxiCrop – continuous plant water status measure to maximise irrigation efficiency
- AgTech platforms to access grape vine water status data to combine with other measures
- Technology hardware manufacturers to partner on the development of in-field grape vine units
Irrigation efficiency is currently limited by observation, soil moisture sensing, weather and historical irrigation records. This leads to inefficient irrigation, which causes either excessive growth or moisture stress, leading to lower yield or quality. There are over 150,000 Ha of irrigated vines in Australia.
The uptake of soil moisture sensors has been of significant benefit for irrigation scheduling, but does not provide a direct and 'real-time' measure of plant water status. Furthermore, soil moisture cannot easily be used to assess stress during the application of deficit irrigation, particularly when atmospheric conditions are variable.
Plant-based sensing provides the additional information required, but such sensors are typically expensive, short-lived and difficult to operate reliably.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Wine Australia are seeking interest from potential partners to commercialise ProxiCrop - a low-cost thermography-based sensor that uses image segmentation to reliably measure a large area of canopy throughout the season, removing the limitations of current point-based thermal sensors.
Commercial partners might license ProxiCrop in its current form and/or seek to co-develop commercial hardware product with CSIRO, which could integrate with existing systems or include development of novel algorithms for a unique product and/or service. There is a sizeable opportunity to co-develop products and services using the technology.
The ProxiCrop solution developed by CSIRO and Wine Australia:
- uses low res thermal imagery and a low cost RGB camera to take regular pictures of the canopy
- data goes to the cloud, where automated algorithms analyse images and estimate canopy temperature. Measuring canopy temperature allows calculation of plant water use through calculation with an algorithm.
- canopy temperature is combined with weather station data to estimate vine water status
- complied data is transferred to an agtech platform and combined with other information to display to the grower.
Trials have been conducted in the Barossa Valley and a prototype dashboard is in place with API access for integration.
Potential other applications:
There is potential to translate the technology into other areas of irrigated horticulture, where irrigation efficiency is a crucial factor in business improvement.
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