Low-cost drones forecast to benefit vineyards

Vineyard managers are among those who stand to benefit from the spread of low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or "drones"), GoPro cameras and GPS systems, according to University of Aberdeen geographic information systems expert Dr David Green.

Drones:enable use of precision technologies by vineyard managers
Drones:enable use of precision technologies by vineyard managers

"The technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and it's now at a stage where with only around £1,000 worth of equipment, you can start to collect information on the health of a vineyard," he said.

"Precision viticulture" technologies can then guide targeted application of pesticides, fungicides, fertilisers and irrigation to areas that need it, he explained. "Previously these would be applied to the whole field, when perhaps only a small area required it. As well as saving money, a precision approach is far better for the environment because there will be fewer chemicals going into the crop - and ultimately into the wine."

He added: "We currently have a PhD student looking at the possibility of monitoring soil with a multispectral or hyperspectral camera system mounted on a UAV to determine soil properties.

"This will hopefully generate the same information as a traditional ground-based soil survey but without the need for laboratory analysis."


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