Introduction of precision agriculture through remote sensing technologies

Date or time period: 1990s

Remote sensing is defined as detection and/or measurement of features on the earth’s surface using sensors on satellite or aircraft platform. Applications in viticulture are mainly targeted at inference of vigour and canopy condition. Commonly used indices = normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) and plant cell density (PCD). It may also be used for determination of canopy leaf area and fruit composition (Lamb et al. 2004). Infrared aerial photography has been used for diagnosis and early detection of, for example, phylloxera, since the late 1970s in California and the 1990s in Australia (Herbert et al. 2004).

Precision agriculture is defined as the process of modulating cultural practices as a function of spatial and temporal variation within agricultural fields (Bramley 2009). Precision agriculture dates from the 1990s (Pierce and Nowak 1999). Application to viticulture dates from late 1990s (Bramley and Proffitt 1999). It is an approach that recognises that productivity of vineyards and even blocks within vineyards can be inherently variable. Spatial variation tends to be constant from season to season. Therefore vineyard management is targeted rather than implemented uniformly over large areas. Essential to this approach is the collection of large amounts of data at high spatial resolution. It also relies on technology including GPS, GIS, remote sensing and yield monitoring on mechanical harvesters.


Arnoi, J. et al. (2009) Agric Res 7(4), 779-790

Bramley, R. (2009) Precision viticulture: Managing vineyard variability for improved quality outcomes. In: Reynolds, A.G. (Ed.) Understanding and managing wine quality and safety. Woodhead Publ.

Bramley, R, and Proffit,t A. (1999) Aust NZ Grapegrower and W’maker no 427, 11-16

Bramley R and Hamilton R (2004) Aust J Grape and Wine Res 10, 32-45

Herbert, K., Parsons, U., Powell, K., Hoffmann, Al, Ophel-Keller, K., van Heeswijck, R. 2004. A DNA-based diagnostic test for the early detection of phylloxera in ungrafted vineyards. Blair, R.J., William, P.J., Pretorius, I. S. eds. Proceedings of the 12th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference, 24-29 July 2004. AWITC Inc.: Urrbrae, SA.

Lamb, D, and Bramley, R. (2002) Proc 11th AWITC Adel 2001 pp 91-97

Pierce, F. and Nowak, P. (1999) Agron. 67, 1-85