In the rapidly changing landscape of modern agriculture, creating a standard for digital mapping is fundamental for deploying technology onto vineyards. DEFRA’s Farming Innovation Programme and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge is supporting just that, with a new project called VISTA (Vineyard Information System for Technology and Automation).

The VISTA powered digital map of the vineyard will allow the grower to tie together many different systems so they all speak the same language empowering decision-making within structured agricultural settings. As part of the project, drone, robot and in-field sensors will be used to monitor climate and weather, crop health, soil moisture, fruit counts, and fruit quality, with the VISTA map providing the digital backbone to process this data. 

Once in operation, it is anticipated that a Vineyard Manager could easily obtain and compare information, for example, to compare last year’s soil conductivity maps and last week’s satellite imagery together side by side, with the locations of different grape varieties overlaid on top or by clicking on a particular part of the vineyard, the latest data gathered by drone and robot scout systems could be seen and compared to those results from the same time last season. Allowing enhanced intervention decisions about a particular part of a field, for example using a precision sprayer system to amend the dosage on those vines during its next pass, while also tagging for the agronomist at his next visit. 

The project is led by a consortium of leading industry partners and will start by digitally mapping vineyards at the row and individual vine level, using JoJo’s Vineyard in Oxfordshire as a first test site. The project includes collaboration between tech experts from Agri-EPI Centre, crop mapping specialists from Outfield Technologies, roboticists from Antobot, viticultural expertise from Vinescapes, and robotic mapping researchers from the University of Lincoln.  

Dr Alistair Nesbitt, CEO Vinescapes said: “The VISTA project is a source of great excitement, driven by its mission to advance technology in the field of viticulture. We are looking forward to bringing our knowledge, previous research and practical expertise to the project in conjunction with collaborating with growers to fully grasp the opportunities this ground breaking project holds.”  

Oli Hilbourne, CEO and Co-Founder at Outfield Technologies said: “The VISTA Project is a great example of the strength of UK innovation funding, bringing together technology companies, growers and academic partners to solve specific industry challenges. With VISTA, the UK wine industry has an opportunity to set the international standard and export our knowledge to the rest of the wine growing world. We are really excited to get started on the project and work with UK vineyards to drive increases in productivity.”

We are thrilled to share the project’s progress with you, please sign up for more information and to get involved.