- Improve irrigation practices by using sensors to monitoring soil humidity in the vineyard
- Improvement of productivity and quality
- Reduction of costs by 10%-20%
Given the adverse natural conditions (extremely skeletal soil, low precipitation, and extended sunshine hours during summer), production and maintenance of the vineyard requires an extremely demanding irrigation system. Although the whole vineyard is mostly irrigated by drip irrigation systems, the costs associated to irrigation – during the irrigation season which lasts approximately for three months – represents almost 10% of the total production costs. This irrigation method was based on experience instead of hard facts and analytics that could help determine both the right time for irrigation and the right amount of water that should be used in the process. Nevertheless, having this type of information can result in a more efficient production, better quality of the product and lower production costs.
irrigNET, a solution developed by DunavNET, has been put in service. The pilot project, a joint effort between DunavNET, „13 Jul Plantaže“ and the University of Donja Gorica, was implemented during the irrigation season in 2017. Devices for measuring soil moisture and humidity were deployed at eight locations in the vineyard. Data collected by sensors was combined with soil characteristics, current weather conditions and weather forecasts, and fed to the irrigNET system, customised for grape production optimisation. The system outputs alerts and advices that specify when and what quantity of irrigation is required. A web and a mobile app provide step-by-step guidance to end-users on how to irrigate for getting optimal results, such as optimising the number of irrigation cycles and the amount of water required to decrease production costs and, at the same time, increase the yield and grape quality.
Plantaže, during the implementation process, dealt with a huge challenge related to sensors’ calibration for the specific soil types in the region. Although, this required laboratory analysis, implementation time and high costs at the beginning of the service deployment, the issue was overcome by defining specific water constants, such as field water capacity or lento-capillary moisture, directly in the field. Another challenge was placing the sensors at different depths, because of the skeleton type of the soil composed by large particles of rock. This required a careful installation and the avoidance of air gaps.
Results and Benefits
The implementation of IoT and Cloud solutions, and the analysis of the collected data, helped the company to understand the real problems and mistakes that have been related to irrigation practices so far, as well as the improvements that could be made in the future.
Using the irrigNET service optimised the number of irrigation cycles, and quantity of water per cycles to decrease irrigation costs by 10 - 20%. In the long term, benefits such as rational water consumption, decreased energy consumption and decreased soil destruction are expected, as well an overall increase of income.
This project is just one of the steps towards comprehensive inclusion of IoT and Cloud technologies targeting a complete “Precision Viticulture” solution in the near future.