First trend of the SITEVI Innovation Awards roll of honour: digital technology and its applications
Digital technology helps to make life easier for drivers and winery managers in managing their equipment. It also helps to obtain more actionable information to take the right decisions, keep track of these actions or the results obtained, and then share them easily.
Digital technology to manage winegrowing machines
For many years now, digital technology has been part of agricultural machinery. While embedded electronics were more in evidence than digital technology, this presence on board machines has allowed new functions to be introduced, in
particular driver assistance tools.
The most advanced development of digital technology is in robotics which is experiencing a boom today, with winegrowing robots such as Bakus (Vitibot). It is likely that in a few years’ time, this commercial offering will include more
propositions in terms of robots, especially with regard to functions and performances.
However, whenever there is always a driver behind the controls, digital innovation will help them to pilot an incredibly sophisticated and efficient machine.
To increase the work rate when using straddle carriers, users wish to be able to combine several attachments on the same vehicle. With the combined multifunction tool carrier by Pellenc (Silver medal), it is possible to combine all types of attachments on the front and the rear of the tractor. The mechanical, hydraulic and electrical arrangements have been rearranged to enable such combinations with quick coupling systems. But most importantly, the electronic management of row entry and exit makes driving very easy, with turnarounds virtually automated.
The «Frutteto CVT Activesteer» tractor by SDF (Bronze medal) is fitted with a fourwheel steering system enabling movement combinations: proportional rear wheel, delayed rear wheel, crab. An array of driver assistance solutions makes this tractor particularly efficient and easy to drive. In particular, the automatic mode to manage headland turns, with the possibility of recording sequences of operations.
Other driver assistance aids are also emerging to reduce the hard work of headland turn operations, or systems to reduce the number of steering wheel rotations (CustomSteerTM by New Holland) or to do away with them altogether
(CLICK-TURN by GRV).
There are an increasing number of machine display and control tools which supply the user with very detailed information on the process underway in the form of graphs and curves. The E-Panel by Diemme Enologia and the Smart Graph by Pera-Pellenc are user interfaces which help the user in managing and controlling their winemaking tasks.
The possibility of combining attachments on a tool carrier is limited by the compatibility between attachments and vehicle: if the attachments are made by a different manufacturer to that of the vehicle, there is virtually no chance of making operations easy and/or automated. The Isobus standard was developed to address this problem, although it is making slow progress in spreading to wine and fruit growing tractors and machines, and it may never be applicable to attachments with no associated electronics (mowers, tilling machinery).
To deal with this challenge, New Holland offers a “multipurpose on demand” service (Goldmedal). The aim is to make the attachments of all brands “interoperable” with the tool carriers of another brand. Thanks to a simplified programming interface, and with the help of the dealer, the machine may be programmed to apply its user interfaces (joystick and digital terminal in particular) to the attachments of other brands.
Digital technology to control fixed plant
Digital technology can also be applied to automating processes and/or fixtures, thus giving rise to totally new functions. For instance, Sun’Agri (Gold medal) proposes an ‘agrivoltaism’ system, i.e., an installation that combines the protection of crops against from severe weather hazards, with the generation of electricity.
Solar panels are installed over the crop (vineyard, orchard, greenhouse, etc.) whose role is to protect the crop without affecting productivity. According to circumstances, the tilt angle of the panels will allow the sun to shine on the crop, or on the contrary offer it some shade. Here, digital technology can adjust the position of the panels in order to optimise the crop yield. Power generation is a by-product of the farming activity and is not intended to take precedence.
Also in the area of facility control, digital technology can also increasingly be found in the wine cellar. We are now beginning to see the total automation of certain operations such as pressing in the sparkling wine production process. Bucher-Vaslin proposes its Maestro fully automated pneumatic press (Bronze medal), where all the phases of the pressing cycle are automatically controlled from the weighing of the harvested grapes and the volume of juice extracted during pressing.
The company Parsec has designed its AphroMate Plus computerised regulation system (Silver medal), which automates and fully manages the sparkling and semi-sparkling wine production process according to the charmat-martinotti method.
For nurseries, the company BM Emballage has developed a high-speed scion cutting machine (Bronze medal). This machine uses artificial intelligence techniques to cut the scions, count them and sort them by size.
With its Andromède system (Bronze medal), Aquadoc offers the opportunity to groups of irrigators (machinery pool, etc.) to conduct connected, shared and optimise irrigation. Connected sensors supply permanent information on water consumption in each parcel, and the software that receives requests from members of the organisation manages the allocation of requests and the opening of valves to guarantee the fair distribution of water between members within the boundaries of resource availability. This system optimises irrigation and helps to conserve water resources.
Digital technology for data collection and decision-making
Digital technology also enables the collection, sharing and analysis of data which are increasingly numerous and essential to good decision-making.
Felco innovates with its application Digivitis (Bronze medal), which is made up of a connected and geo-positioned data collection terminal carried by the vineyard worker, and a decision aid system which aggregates data and feeds them back. The terminal indicates the precise geographical position of events on the ground (diseased or dead plants, damaged infrastructure, etc.). The web application analyses the data, organises all the activity relating to the vine, and sends instructions to the worker on the tasks to be carried out (what parcel, what task, what product, etc.).
This trend in data collection is also in evidence with other exhibitors, both for the vineyard (SCDC’s Sentinelle sensor or Sencrop’s Leafcrop), and in the wine cellar (Watgrid’s Winegrid sensors).
The “Gazy” smartphone application (Bronze medal) by Air Tech and Oenomeca tells the operator or winemaker how much gas to inject during degassing operations: deoxygenation and decarbonisation. The calculations take into account the quantities to remove, wine transfer flow rates, temperature, degree of alcohol and concentration of sugar in the case of decarbonisation. No more guesswork: the quantities of nitrogen required to control dissolved gases are obtained in the space of a few taps on the smartphone.
Other smartphone applications are available to producers and can be of valuable help in decision-making as they provide useful and easy-to-use information at all times, such as the free ApeX Vigne application by IFV which enables easier use of the Apex method to estimate the level of water stress in the vine.