Unmanned Aerial System Captures Washington Vineyard Irrigation Data

Washington State University Professor Lav Khot prepares to fly the 8-bladed octo-copter over a vineyard to measure how effectively a new irrigation method gets water to the vines. (Photo credit: WSU)
Washington State University Professor Lav Khot prepares to fly the 8-bladed octo-copter over a vineyard to measure how effectively a new irrigation method gets water to the vines. (Photo credit: WSU)

The unmanned aerial system (UAS), is an eight-rotor “octo-copter,” and uses high-tech cameras to assess the status of canopy vigor and relate that to irrigation water use and evaporation from grapevines. The flights are part of a long-term Washington State University (WSU) study on subsurface irrigation in vineyards.

“We can do measurements on the ground, but they’re time-consuming, laborious, and take a while to process,” Lav Khot, assistant professor in the WSU Department of Biological Systems Engineering and affiliate faculty for the Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural System (CPAAS), said. “With the small UAS, we can get real-time measurements in minutes with incredible accuracy. It’s a huge advantage.”

The study Khot is involved in is an effort to reduce the amount of irrigation water used to grow winegrapes by applying water directly to the roots of a vine in the ground, instead of dripping water on the ground near the trunk. The project is led by WSU professors Pete Jacoby and Sindhuja Sankaran, both affiliate faculty members of CPAAS.

In the first year of the study, Khot said one treatment used 60% of the normal amount of water, and the vines had no yield differences. But the three-year project is testing a variety of fields to see what levels of subsurface irrigation, at what intervals, provide the best outcome for growers.

“It’s very early, but it seems subsurface irrigation is working,” he said. “The berry size is the same as (with) control treatments, but we need more data. We’re really excited about the potential.”

The octo-copter can carry up to nine pounds of equipment to measure the temperature of the vine canopy and how water transferred from the roots to the canopy is being used during various growth stages.

The UAS works by flying a few hundred feet above the vines, hovering in preprogrammed locations for a defined time period, then moving to the next location. Khot stitches together the images to get data for an entire vineyard study plot.

The unit has built-in fail-safe features and geofencing capabilities; if it loses contact with its ground pilot, it will return to where it took off. Per FAA guidelines, it can only fly in “line of sight.”

“We don’t want it to crash and we don’t want it to fly off and potentially damage itself, its payload or others’ property,” Khot said.

 

 

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Grapes Stories
Grapes
September 26, 2017
New England Researchers Study Viability of Seedless Table Grapes Varieties
University of New Hampshire project looks at growing systems, varieties to determine what type of production would be suited for cooler climates. Read More
Grapes
September 12, 2017
Heat Wave Leads to Early Winegrape Harvest in California’s Sonoma County
Ask any winegrape grower to describe the grape harvest in Sonoma County and you typically hear “harvest time is like Read More
Grapes
September 8, 2017
Spotted Lanternfly Population Large This Year
Thanks to mild winter, numbers for the pest are growing, especially in southeast Pennsylvania. Read More
glass of red wine
Grapes
August 30, 2017
ASEV Confirms Enologist as President
Washington State University’s James Harbertson to lead American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) as the 2017-2018 president. Read More
Grapes
August 26, 2017
Ode to Being a Part-time Farmer [Opinion]
I work with many grape growers in Virginia. Some of them work full time at a single vineyard operation. Many Read More
GenNext Growers
August 8, 2017
Winegrape Society Awards $100,000 in Scholarships
American Society for Enology and Viticulture bestows awards at its 68th national conference. Read More
Grapes
July 7, 2017
California Winegrowers Applaud $5 Million to Battle Disease
Governor approves Pierce’s Disease Control Program money for the first time since 2011. Read More
Grapes
July 3, 2017
Climate Doesn’t Weigh Heavy On Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
While warming trend has been a part of past few seasons, the vineyard is incorporating new technologies to grape growing versus altering production techniques. Read More
Grapes
July 3, 2017
How to Handle Warming Pacific Northwestern Vineyards
The warming temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are well-suited for red winegrape production, but other changes in viticulture practices must be made. Read More
GenNext Growers
June 29, 2017
Cornell Graduate Student Earns Grape Disease Research
Doctoral candidate recognized by American Society of Enology and Viticulture for work studying sour rot pathogens. Read More
Grapes
June 29, 2017
Cornell University Wants You to Name That Grape
Contest to name cold-tolerant variety a seedless ‘Concord’-type berry runs through July 31. Read More
Grapes
June 26, 2017
Washington Grape Grower Battles New Threat
Apples, cherries, and pears are also threatened by Tobacco Ringspot Virus, a pathogen never before seen in Washington state. Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption Produce Safety Rule
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
California Winegrowers Award Scholarships to Employees’ Kids
California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation awards $30,000 in student scholarships. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Berry Scarring
It’s a costly defect, but learning what causes berry scarring can help you prevent it. Read More
The Latest
Grapes
October 13, 2017
Fairgrounds Host California Fire Evacuee…
Gallo will contribute $1 million to fire recovery effort and will match employee donations two-for-one. Read More
Grapes
October 10, 2017
Wildfires Hit California Wine Country
California Gov. Jerry Brown declares state of emergency for northern counties impacted by flames. Read More
Grapes
October 7, 2017
Tips for Effective Vine Mealybug Managem…
Scouting, trapping, and mating disruption can help prevent populations of this pest increasing in your vineyard. Read More
Grapes
September 26, 2017
New England Researchers Study Viability …
University of New Hampshire project looks at growing systems, varieties to determine what type of production would be suited for cooler climates. Read More
Grapes
September 12, 2017
Heat Wave Leads to Early Winegrape Harve…
Ask any winegrape grower to describe the grape harvest in Sonoma County and you typically hear “harvest time is like Read More
Grapes
September 8, 2017
Spotted Lanternfly Population Large This…
Thanks to mild winter, numbers for the pest are growing, especially in southeast Pennsylvania. Read More
Grapes
August 30, 2017
ASEV Confirms Enologist as President
Washington State University’s James Harbertson to lead American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) as the 2017-2018 president. Read More
Grapes
August 26, 2017
Ode to Being a Part-time Farmer [Opinion…
I work with many grape growers in Virginia. Some of them work full time at a single vineyard operation. Many Read More
GenNext Growers
August 8, 2017
Winegrape Society Awards $100,000 in Sch…
American Society for Enology and Viticulture bestows awards at its 68th national conference. Read More
Grapes
July 7, 2017
California Winegrowers Applaud $5 Millio…
Governor approves Pierce’s Disease Control Program money for the first time since 2011. Read More
Grapes
July 3, 2017
Climate Doesn’t Weigh Heavy On Ste. Mich…
While warming trend has been a part of past few seasons, the vineyard is incorporating new technologies to grape growing versus altering production techniques. Read More
Grapes
July 3, 2017
How to Handle Warming Pacific Northweste…
The warming temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are well-suited for red winegrape production, but other changes in viticulture practices must be made. Read More
GenNext Growers
June 29, 2017
Cornell Graduate Student Earns Grape Dis…
Doctoral candidate recognized by American Society of Enology and Viticulture for work studying sour rot pathogens. Read More
Grapes
June 29, 2017
Cornell University Wants You to Name Tha…
Contest to name cold-tolerant variety a seedless ‘Concord’-type berry runs through July 31. Read More
Grapes
June 26, 2017
Washington Grape Grower Battles New Thre…
Apples, cherries, and pears are also threatened by Tobacco Ringspot Virus, a pathogen never before seen in Washington state. Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption P…
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
California Winegrowers Award Scholarship…
California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation awards $30,000 in student scholarships. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Berry Scarring
It’s a costly defect, but learning what causes berry scarring can help you prevent it. Read More