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Vintners raise glass to remote monitoring

Vintners and vine growers have been working for centuries to create the perfect grape for the perfect glass of wine. Now wireless technology is set to help them.

‚Ericsson’s vision of a world with 50 billion connected devices by 2020 means that almost everything will be connected, from mobile phones and TV sets to transportation and health care facilities. In fact, agriculture is just one of the sectors in which mobile broadband and machine-to-machine communication can increase productivity, while delivering environmental benefits,‚ says Magnus Mchunguzi, VP Sales Operations and Ericsson South Africa Managing Director.

In a research project in Panzano in Chianti in Tuscany, Italy, the remote monitoring of organic vineyards is proving beneficial. Several vineyards in Panzano are part of the remote monitoring research project, aimed at finding the best organic farming methods for producing good-quality wine.

Ruggero Mazzilli, project leader at Panzano, says: “We can use remote monitoring thanks to wireless sensors in the vineyard to effectively reduce the way we use pesticides.”” Panzano winemaker Luca Orsini and his family make Chianti Classico in their Le Cinciole organic vineyard. Taking care of the environment in the wine-making process is vital for the Orsinis, who now utilize a mobile technology solution. “”For me, it is important how I produce the wine,”” Luca says. “”It’s an important aspect of my life. This year, we decided to introduce this new technology, VineSense, in our vineyard to control many factors. This system is very important to us because it allows us to control the vines in real time.””

VineSense is a wireless monitoring system with sensors in the vines that send information through a GPRS system. Vine growers can access the data online. The mobile technology solution can help them to save water and reduce the use of pesticides. Davide Di Palma, product manager at Netsens, the company that developed VineSense, says: “”VineSense gives farmers a tool to help them decide when, and how often, to intervene with chemicals or pesticides. It also allows farmers to control water, soil moisture and irrigation. This is done with great accuracy because you take measurements exactly where you need to.””

‚Agriculture is not, and should not be seen as, a return to the past. Young people need to get involved in this industry and today we can use technological innovations which help save energy and transfer new skills, while ensuring successful harvest. Think of the possibilities for Africa!”” concludes Mchunguzi.

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