Vineyard growers around the world face an erratic and uncertain future. Climate change is shifting where, when, and how grape varieties can grow and the viticulture industry is having to adapt quickly. On top of that, rising labour costs, pressures to decarbonise and restrictions on chemical agents mean the vineyard grower of the future will need to be adaptable and data driven.
To help address those challenges, Outfield is proud to be part of an exciting new project with a world-leading consortium: the Vineyard Information System for Technology and Automation or VISTA project.
What is VISTA?
VISTA is a project to create a digital map backbone for vineyard growers around the world. The map will capture the locations of a vineyard’s vines and rows, as well as infrastructure, such as posts and irrigation systems. VISTA will create a format for easy data sharing and integration between different software systems, from satellite imagery to tractors, from drones to soil sensors. Digital mapping empowers informed decision making in horticulture and VISTA will create a standard for digital maps of commercial vineyards in the UK and across the globe.
A VISTA powered digital map of a vineyard will allow the grower of the future to tie together multiple different systems on the farm:
- Sitting in the farm office, a vineyard manager could compare last year’s soil conductivity maps and last week’s satellite imagery together side by side, with the locations of their different grape varieties overlaid on top.
- Clicking on a particular part of the vineyard, they can see the latest data gathered by their drone and robot scout systems, and compare those results to the same time last season.
- Making an intervention decision about a particular part of the field, the vineyard manager can task a precision sprayer system to increase the dosage on those vines during its next pass, while also tagging it for the agronomist to visit when they next stop by.
All of these systems are available to growers today, but by providing a digital backbone for the vineyard VISTA allows them all to speak the same language. For the vineyard of the future to be truly data driven we need to give farm systems a common map to work from, and that is the ultimate goal for VISTA.
As part of the project, drones, robots and in-field sensors will be used to monitor climate and weather, crop health, soil moisture, fruit counts, and fruit quality, with all that data loaded into a common map. Once in operation, the high-resolution VISTA map will be used to drive precision spraying systems and to produce accurate pre-harvest yield maps for growers. These applications will show what a flexible, high resolution mapping standard can bring to vineyards worldwide.
A World Leading Partnership
VISTA is supported by Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge. The project will also be building on some excellent work done by the Collabriculture project in Australia. Together with Outfield, the other VISTA project consortium partners are:
Agri-EPI Centre – the UK’s leading research organisation for agricultural technology applications
Antobot – an extremely versatile and capable robotics platform for scouting, logistics and more
Vinescapes – the UK’s leading vineyard services company
Jojo’s Vineyard – manager Ian describes Jojo’s as “the most scanned vineyard in the world”
University of Lincoln – a global centre of excellence in agricultural robotics systems
Response to VISTA at The Vineyard and Winery Show
Oli Hilbourne, Outfield CEO, representing Outfield at the Vineyard and Winery Show
Last week I attended The Vineyard and Winery Show at the Kent County Showground, which is the largest event of the year for the UK viticulture industry. It was a great opportunity to speak to growers and industry experts about VISTA, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. There is a huge appetite in the industry for better digital tools and for systems to share data more seamlessly. It was a good chance to catch up with other project partners, and the fact that the show gives you the chance to sample the 100 best British wines was also a particular highlight.
There is a dedicated VISTA project website which will be regularly updated with project progress. If you are a grower, agronomist, data provider or other industry expert then we would love for you to get involved with the project. Please do get in touch to find out more!