Grapevine & Wine 06/07/2009

Sustainability and quality only through precision viticulture

Going back to our grandfathers agriculture is not the best neither the only possible way. Tradition and innovation can work together to bring benefit to the eco-compatibility and the valorization of the terroir

Precision viticulture (PV) represents today the whole of techniques and technologies that can rationalize agriculture in order to make it sustainable and based on the valorization of the terroir. The environmental, operative and production monitoring allows to execute every agricultural operation in function of the actual needs of a field, with the ultimate purposes of making a process eco-compatible, emphasizing the value of a typical product and its subsequent traceability.

The vineyard must be viewed as a lively element where environmental, agricultural and anthropological factors contribute altogether to a better expression of the features of the vineyard and of the terroir, therefore favoring the production of quality products.

The contemporary tendency of the market is aimed at emphasizing the typical productions of the diverse Italian vineyard productions, so that the study of the features and of the quality of the vineyard assume an indisputable relevance in the maintenance of the identity of a production territory. PV is to date the most advanced whole of tools and technologies in the pursue of an accurate and complete knowledge of the state of the vineyard.

The term “quality” of the vineyard, although still relatively uncommon in the literature, becomes the central concept of all techniques and technologies which can be related to PV. The offices of Diaf in Florence has tried to elaborate a definition of this for the first time: the quality of the vineyard (QV) can be defined as the whole of agronomic information (pedology, microclimate, vegetative status, hydric status of the field, etc) useful to characterize a determined cultivated area. Combining the different information according to specific protocols permits to obtain both a qualitative and quantitative characterization of the grapes (yield per hectare, content of sugars, acidity, polyphenols,...).

PV exploits advanced geomatic technologies, which enable to collect the necessary information, to display a complete reconstruction of the quality of the vineyard and its grapes, with the consequence of introducing a rational management of the cultivation (fertilization, pruning, bunch thinning, epoch of the harvest,...).

The evolution of agriculture according to precision techniques implicates to utilize technologies aimed at executing agronomic interventions at variable intensity (VTR) in homogeneous areas of the field, and at realizing geo-referenced maps, elaborated through a multi-parametric investigation of the cultivated area. The monitoring of the vegetative status of the latter enables to realize any agricultural operation in function of the diversity of the cultivation, with the ultimate goal of eco-compatibility and valorization of the typical products.

Achieving a sustainable agricultural would be possible only by means of present and future innovative technologies, that are ranked worldwide in the Precision Farming, for instance PV, as in our case. Too often, actually, new technologies are identified with a speculative and exploiting production, with the intent of criticize them with a populistic prejudice. The high technology of sustainable devices such as solar cells put into evidence the contradictions of such a criticism.