Tackling Climate Change on the Wings of a Drone

California is leading charge in the current movement to monitor vineyards by air rather than by hand.


This past week National Public Radio highlighted the use of the winged watchers in a story in which the news outlet visited Sebastopol, California., winery DRNK Wines to gain perspective on the importance of drones in the future of winemaking in California and across the world.


The winery’s mission is, according to NPR, “to one day collect aerial images that will help determine the vines’ vigor, ripeness, flavor and harvest dates, which due to rising soil temperatures have inched up in Sonoma County the past few years.”


These measurements will provide winemakers a better sense of how their grapes are doing in the moment, but also will provide them a yearly accounting of detailed information about weather patterns and climate changes.


These bits of information are important, NPR pointed out, because a 2013 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences revealed there’s a possibility that around 60 percent of California’s vineyards could be rendered unusable by climate changes.


The report, approved for publishing in February 2013, noted that 25 to 73 percent of the world’s winemaking regions may see decreases in suitable viticulture areas.


Vineyards in the Western United States, in particular, may have to adapt by moving their vineyards to higher elevations, the report said.

DRNK Wines told NPR that all the data they collect will help them understand how to “reduce the amount of fertilizer, water or energy that is used to grow grapes”, and in doing so finding ways they can lower their greenhouse gas emissions and help slow down climate change.


DRNK is just one of many wineries or organizations using drones to monitor their crops. Additionally, the winery is representative of overall interest in learning how to respond to future climate changes.


Australia is home to “Vineyard of the Future”, an Adelaide University project in which scientists and grape-growers are studying the effects of various climate changes on their vines. 


The aim of the technology used at the test vineyard is similar to that of DRNK and other vineyards across the world.


In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Adelaide University professor Steve Tyerman said the drone techniques will monitor, among other things, how much water the vines are using and how much photosynthesis is taking place.


“Professor Tyerman says having all this information will make grape growers better decision makers,” the vineyard’s blog reported. “It will also allow them to respond quickly to extreme weather events that may spoil the wine.


Origin: Snooth – Articles


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