UAS-enabled Precision Viticulture for Appalachian Vineyards

Authors: Tim Hoheneder*, West Virginia University, Brenden McNeil, West Virginia University
Topics: UAS / UAV, Wine, Beer, and Spirits, Remote Sensing
Keywords: Remote Sensing, Drones, Viticulture, Wine, Appalachia, UAS, UAV
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Unpersoned aerial systems (UAS) could provide winegrowers with the potential to monitor vineyard productivity with ultra-high-resolution imagery and low operational costs. This ability could prove particularly valuable in the challenging cool-climate viticultural areas of Appalachia. Especially in this mountainous region of increasingly variable microclimates, there could be great value from an ability to use UAS-measured greenness to predict harvest yields and wine grape quality. In this study, I first assess how vineyard microclimate relates to three complementary measures of vigor: leaf angle, leaf growth, and leaf spectral measurements of greenness. After correlating these field measures of greenness to UAS-measured greenness, I evaluate whether UAS greenness can predict spatial patterns in harvested wine grapes' yield and quality.
I collected imagery every other week between June and September 2020 from a DJI Mavic 2 Pro UAS platform, focusing on three blocks of Marechal Foch varietal grapes at the Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalkhill, Pennsylvania. I also participated in the wine grape harvest and measured harvest yield and the average brix per vine from 41 sampled vines. From these data, I employed multivariate regression to assess the relationship of microclimate to the three measures of vine vigor. Then, I applied univariate regression to test whether the seasonal UAS-measured summed greenness of grapevine canopies is predictive of harvest yield and quality. Based on these tests among microclimate, UAS greenness, and expectant harvest yield and quality, I conclude by evaluating the potential of precision viticulture within the future regional climates of the Appalachian Mountains.

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