Product Newsby Paul Franson
July 2016Yamaha Motor Corp. recently opened an office at the airport in Napa County, Calif., for spraying agricultural land in Napa and Sonoma counties with its RMAX.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have great promise in viticulture, but grapegrowers are just beginning to put them to use.
These small aircraft can be used to assess the condition of vines using visual, infrared and near-infrared cameras more economically than manned aircraft and have other advantages such as being able to fly closer to vines or being used regularly to provide a pattern of vineyard development. Most UAVs can operate automatically, scanning a vineyard using GPS to specified coordinates.
Images by themselves aren’t very useful, and most companies that sell UAVs or UAV imaging services also offer software to help extract information that can help growers make decisions from when to apply treatments or water to when it’s time to pick different blocks.
One larger version, the Yamaha RMAX remote-controlled helicopter, can even spray vines with pesticides and fungicides more quickly than a person can, and the downdraft from the rotors encourages even coverage such as under leaves.
Yamaha Motor Corp. recently opened an office at the airport in Napa County, Calif., for spraying agricultural land in Napa and Sonoma counties with its RMAX. On May 18, it performed the first U.S. commercial crop spraying by UAV on a Napa Valley vineyard, applying a fungicide for Silverado Farming Co. to stave off powdery mildew.
Yamaha has been using RMAX helicopters internationally for 19 years, but it had to wait several years to get approval in the United States.
UAV suppliers say the machines are safer, faster and provide more reliable application of treatments with no soil compaction.
The nascent UAV market includes airframe suppliers, service providers, imaging equipment and software suppliers and expertise for analysis. Some companies offer only one element, but most prefer to provide more comprehensive services.
The following pages contain a summary of UAVs for the viticultural market. Specifications and prices are subject to change. Check with suppliers for details.
Many other companies offer imaging services and analysis—including those based on manned aircraft and satellites—but some of these are starting to offer or investigate the use of UAVs.
Note that the Federal Aviation Administration views all agricultural activity of UAVs as commercial drone operation. This means the operator must have a Section 333 exemption to fly as well as a pilot’s license
YAMAHA/PRECISION AGRICULTUREREAD MORE
Bucher VaslinREAD MORE
May 2016Credit: Ryan Grant
Your tasting room cash register should be doing more than just ringing up sales. The point-of-sale (POS) systems available today can be utilized through a terminal or mobile device and offer myriad other functions that range from marketing to inventory management. Several suppliers offer POS systems that are fully integrated with wine club management, e-commerce, warehouse and shipping as well as bookkeeping. The price of a POS service varies from supplier to supplier and typically involves a monthly service fee as well as one-time fees for hardware and software.
The days of raw-cut oak chips and discarded stave wood are long gone. Oak barrel alternative products are now available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, toasts and even wood types. Wines & Vines checked with oak suppliers about the latest batch of alternative innovations.
BOISE FRANCEREAD MORE
March 2016A soil moisture sensor is programmed to relay data to a smartphone.
One can safely assume that in coming years water will continue to get more expensive, more scarce or (most likely) both.
Yet the technology to measure soil-moisture content has continued to improve, and today growers can choose from a variety of sensors. The data from such sensors is vital to ensure an irrigation program is using water as effectively and efficiently as possible and can be incorporated into a precision-agriculture system to help growers make even better vineyard-management decisions.
Several companies sell individual sensors as well as other equipment for data logging or to download and interpret data. Other firms like Hortau, Fruition Sciences and Ranch Systems use soil moisture sensors as part of broad networks that provide extremely detailed irrigation reports, analysis and recommendations.
When it comes to just moisture sensors, there are two main categories: those that measure the water content of soil and those that measure water tension or how easy it is for roots to take up moisture. Moisture content, volumetric or capacitance sensors use time domain reflectometry (TDR) and transmissometry (TDT) while water tension is determined with tensiometers and matric potential sensors.
Neutron probes are another option that are quite accurate and draw data from a large area, but they are expensive and require extra permits and training because they use radioactive material. Most companies that use neutron probes either have the resources to train someone to use them full time or work with a consulting firm that uses them.
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Wines & Vines contacted cooperages about new barrels and toast options on the market or newly available for the 2016 vintage. Several coopers reported they’re offering more toasts designed to provide a restrained oak presence to accentuate and frame fruit flavors rather than dominate the wine profile.
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The innovation awards at the 2015 SIMEI conference and trade show put the spotlight on machines and other new technology designed to help winemakers improve their wines while reducing resource consumption or improving energy efficiency.READ MORE
The next generation of destemmers features new methods for removing MOG as well as variable settings for speed and motion that enable winemakers to further customize how they process grapes on the crush pad. Many of these machines feature optional crushers and additional sorting capabilities.
The Armbruster Rotovib employs a patented vibratory movement to “pluck” grapes from the stems, allowing thorough berry removal at slower speeds. Destemmed berries fall onto the next stage of sorting, while unripe grapes and raisins stay affixed to the rachis and move into the waste stream. A new “Rollersorter” add-on feature provides additional mechanical sorting with interlaced silicon rubber spools that carry berries toward the collection point while allowing MOG to fall through as waste. The machine is available in three models with throughput rates of 10-30 tons per hour. Distributed through Scott Laboratories. Price for Rotovib 10 with Rollersorter: $32,500.
The Delta Oscillys machine by Bucher Vaslin uses inertia to separate grapes from the stems. Grapes enter the machine through a small hopper and fall into cylindrical cages that swing back and forth. The movement forces berries to separate from the stems, and they then fall onto a rolling sorter table. The manufacturer claims the Oscillys produces a grape stream of just 0.2% to 0.5% MOG. Throughput is 2 to 16 tons per hour and can be adjusted by the size of the cage holes and swinging speed. Price for Oscillys 100: $42,000; Oscillys 200 with two destemming cages: $56,000.
C.M.A. unveiled its new Dream machine in 2015. The Dream is fed through a hopper and uses a swinging cage system to separate whole berries, which fall onto a rolling sorting table that further separates out MOG. The holes of the sorting cage and the swinging speed can be adjusted for grape size and quality. Throughput of the Dream is between 1 and 15 tons per hour. Distributed through Prospero. Starting price: $39,000.
Dinamica expanded its line of crusher-destemmers this year. The company now offers a range of models that can process from 3-6 tons per hour to 18-25 tons per hour. The destemmers feature adjustable legs to fit into any crush pad system and optional crushing rollers. The crusher is powered by a separate motor and can be operated independently from the destemmer, allowing it to be placed at the end of a sorting table. Distributed by TCW Equipment & Systems. Starting price: $5,995.
The new i10 by IMMA can be adjusted in multiple ways, depending on grape size, berry condition and winemaking goals. The speed of the beater bars and cage revolutions can be adjusted as well as the height of the cage and distance between the bars and cage. Other features include a crusher that can operate as a separate unit and an interior jet system to make cleaning and sanitizing easier. Throughput is 10 tons per hour. Distributed by The Vintner Vault. Price: $21,500.
The belt-fed Estasi machine by Milani “brushes” berries off stems by coupling the forward motion of the belt with a “transverse oscillating screen.” The machine is designed to be gentle to preserve as many whole berries as possible. The machine also features rubber rollers to be used as an optional crusher.READ MORE
Designed to operate between vineyard rows, these tractors can carry implements such as vine trimmers or haul trailers carrying half-ton bins. Many manufacturers offer narrow models with varying horsepower and other options. This report did not include narrow, tracked tractors or over-the-row machines.
NEW HOLLANDREAD MORE
Pumps are necessary to perform a variety of winemaking tasks, making them an invaluable piece of equipment in the cellar. Wines & Vines contacted pump manufacturers about popular or new pumps for transferring wine, performing pumpovers, filling and emptying barrels and other functions. Prices vary based on pump model and dealer options such as carts and control panels.
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Several new filters on the market can better handle high-solid lees and juice to enable wineries to save more wine, while other firms have new, specialized filters for specific applications. Prices vary based on the filtration medium or technology as well as capacity.
Several suppliers now offer screwcaps with liners that allow varying rates of oxygen permeability.VinPerfect Smartcaps.
Wines & Vines surveyed tank manufacturers to find the latest shapes, sizes and new features for stainless steel tanks. Prices vary according to tank sizes, options and current pricing for labor and materials.
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Randox Food Diagnostics is offering a new NOPA test kit for the 2013 harvest. Randox claims its new assay offers the widest ranges in the market: It has a minimum detectable concentration of 5.1 mgN/L and is linear up to a concentration of 500 mgN/L. Test results are ready within seven minutes. Details: randoxfooddiagnostics.com.READ MORE
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