With harvesting at the door, there is a robot to gain fame in the Douro vineyard. It is called VineScout and is born as part of a European project of two million euros and has a clearly defined mission: to help grape growers collect information about the cycles of grape cultivation and ripening of grapes in real time to take advantage of the maximum the qualitative potential of the fruit.
After a first phase of testing in the summer of 2017, VineScout will now return to the Douro to Quinta do Ataíde, from Symington Family Estates, to continue field trials. It contains the lessons and conclusions of the first trials in real context last year and promises to continue to improve performance to measure the main parameters of the vineyard and to support the viticulture.
For this, August 29 is the official test day on the agenda of the robot, which means that the partners of this project (Symington, Polytechnic University of Valencia, La Rioja University, Wall-YE Robots & Software and Sundance Multiprocessor Technologies), wine producers, universities and research institutes, international consultants, producer organizations and technology companies to participate in field demonstrations and to make suggestions for improvements.
For Symington, the only national partner of this project of the European Commission under Horizon 2020, VineScout distinguishes itself by the ability to autonomously monitor vineyards and use electric propulsion and solar energy to win vineyards in the Douro in other regions. 39; s of Europe, taking into account the sustainable practices needed to ensure the future of the sector ".
Ready to measure the main parameters of the vineyard to support the viticulture, including control of the water status of the vine, for proper management of the availability of water, leaf temperature and plant growth, Vinescout is presented as "a robot affordable, reliable and easy to operate, "growing by incorporating improvements to the final version in 2019 and producing in series in the medium to long term.
With their help, wine growers hope to overcome some of the limitations stemming from the current vineyard data collection techniques, which are considered expensive, which require skilled workers and take some time, because companies have extensive areas to be checked. And this work is generally incomplete, because the sampling frequencies are low. But with the new working robot, wine makers hope to gain access to comprehensive, reliable and real-time information during growing periods and ripening cycles.
Symington Family Estates has been present for five generations in the Douro, since 1882, and is currently the largest owner of estates in the Douro region, with brands such as Graham & # 39; s, Dow & # 39; s, Cockburn & # 39; Warre, Port wine, together with DOC Douro Quinta do Vesuvio, Quinta do Ataíde, Altano and P + S. In search of innovative solutions for the future, the company has bet on experimental vineyards, in Quinta da Cavadinha, and in the collections grapes planted in Quinta do Ataíde and Quinta do Bomfim, with respectively 53 and 29 different varieties, some of which are almost unknown. With family management, Symington is also involved in the VISCA – Vineyards Integrated Smart Climate Application, a European research and development project that seeks to develop strategies for adaptation to climate change in the short and medium term.