research and development

Grapevine Canopy Density Measurement

                            Low Cost Sensing and Assessment Of Grapevine Canopy Density For Improved

                            Grape Production And Quality

Project Description

Measurement of vine canopy density has the goal of evaluating light penetration into the leaves and fruiting zone. ASTER Labs, Inc., in concert with its partner, Moai Technologies, LLC, has developed a solution that includes laser beams as an analogue to natural light. A laser beam travels until it strikes an object, then reflects back to a 3D/LIDAR camera. The camera senses its return and measures the amount of time and hence, the distance, that it has traveled. With tens of thousands of flight measurements per second, a 3-dimensional image of the complex grapevine leaf canopy is produced. This allows for analysis of exactly where canopy thinning should happen.

Societal Benefits

Grapevine canopy management is perhaps the most critical task in the production of uniformly high quality grapes and is directly related to wine quality. Good canopy management results in less disease, reducing the need for fungicide sprays. Thinning the canopy by means of hedging, topping, and leaf removal can be done by machinery. However, in current practice, the task of evaluating the vine canopy so that thinning can only be done at exactly the right time and to the right extent, is manual, labor-intensive, and requires a good amount of expertise. Providing a technology that facilitates this process allows for a decreased amount of manual labor and potentially a more consistent style of canopy management that could result in higher quality grapes overall.

Broader Impacts

As wine exports continue to increase from low cost countries such as Chile and Argentina, the U.S. wine industry must find ways to stay competitive. This will be even more important in the future as the prospect of a rapidly growing Chinese wine industry producing and exporting high quality wines becomes a reality. One way the wine industry in the U.S. can maintain its place in the market is to leverage technology and automation that both reduce the amount of labor required for grape production and increase the quality of the grape crop leading to higher quality wines. Managing a grapevine’s canopy for optimal sun exposure is key to grape production and quality. Existing procedures such as Smart and Leaf Area Index are extremely tedious and time-consuming. Our solution optimizes this entire process by delivering vineyard managers and grape growers automated assessment of grape canopies that allow for implementation of proper management techniques for improved crop yield and quality.

United States Department of Agriculture Project Description