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Better grape & wine farming through technology (and how it can help your business, too)

In vino veritas — “in wine lies the truth”. Perhaps no truer words have been spoken (and considering they were spoken more than a thousand years ago, that’s saying something). Seriously though, grape farming, vineyards and vintners have been around for a millennium, but leaders in this space are turning to new-age tools — namely, AI — to farm a better grape and create more complex and delicious wines. That’s a practical application we can all get behind!

How technology changed farming

It’s no secret that farm equipment and methods have advanced significantly in recent decades. So much so, that farmers have resorted to hacking their own equipment because it’s too high-tech to repair themselves.

Farmers are hacking their tractors to fix it themselves

Small hiccups like this aside, better navigation, laser-leveling of fields, etc. have made farmers’ jobs easier and their yields higher within the same acreage. Some farmers are taking it a step further, though, and applying cutting edge artificial intelligence to the equation, with fascinating results.

Grape farming goes 21st century

In the wine industry, bigger is not better. You see, the smaller the grape, the higher the ratio of skin to juice, the more complex and delicious the flavor of the resulting wine. So, it’s counterintuitively better to produce smaller grapes, so there’s more skin per grape. And what’s the easiest way to control size of grapes? Irrigation.

The more you water the grapes, the larger they get. That’s why high-end vintners will dry out their vines before harvest to try and reduce that juice-to-skin ratio. But how do they know exactly how much water to give each vine in a large vineyard?

One winemaker turned to complex imaging and AI to figure that out:

Trinchero Family Estates in Napa Valley, California wanted to make sure it was watering its grapes just the right amount, so they worked with Ceres Imaging to map their fields. Ceres used fixed-wing aircrafts to capture color, thermal, and infrared images of the vineyard, and they used artificial intelligence to analyze those images to see if the wine producer was overwatering its grapes.


Beyond grape farming

Vineyards aren’t the only ones getting in on the act. Multiple tech firms, like Ceres, ProsperaFarmers Edge, and the Climate Corporation, are leveraging artificial intelligence to ameliorate farming’s pitfalls. It can help farmers decide when to plant, when to water, when to spray, and when to harvest their crops. And, as an added bonus, it can help mitigate climate change: as rainstorms worsen in the Midwest and droughts become more severe in California, the technology could also help growers navigate more severe and volatile weather in real time.

The hard part is getting computers to determine when crops are sick, injured, or thirsty. So firms have developed systems that can learn to interpret images, growing smarter over time. Those systems also combine information gleaned from images with data on temperature, rainfall, soil quality, and other variables to determine when and how much to spray and water crops.


What this means for your business

So how does this impact you and your business? Unless you’re a farmer, it doesn’t exactly. But the principle of targeted innovation certainly applies.

If you’re not thinking about ways to harness new and emerging technologies to improve your business’s processes, products and services, you’re ceding ground to your competitors.

We by no means counsel innovation just for the sake of innovation. But you should definitely be thinking about how new developments in technology could help you gain a leg up over the competition.

That’s what we’re here for. As part of every client engagement, we do a free consultation to pinpoint areas we could improve through innovation, while respecting areas that aren’t ripe for disruption just yet. That’s how we strike the right balance between innovation, utility and cost.

Drop us a line today to see how a consultation with us could help you build an innovation roadmap for the future!


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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