Talk Colorado Wine & Colorado's Wine Country: New Soil Monitoring System Takes Terroir Wireless

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Soil Monitoring System Takes Terroir Wireless

Imagine a future of managing a vineyard's microclimates, where every grape stock is monitored wirelessly. Well, that future is now amongst the vines at the Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa. Tom Abate, Staff Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, examines the "beta testing" going on at Stagecoach. This technology has interesting roots in a Silicon Valley company that designed sensor systems for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. This Defense Department offshoot has a storied track record. DARPA spawned the Internet, is hard researching robotic unmanned cars, and now, has inadvertently birthed a way to better control a grape harvest. Your tax dollars at work...They call this computerized monitoring of crops "precision agriculture."

Under the headline, "Wireless System Can Detect Water Level in Soil," Abate writes:

"On a rolling hillside planted with row upon row of Cabernet grapes, viticulturist Jason Cole waxes eloquent about the elusive notion of terroir, a term French farmers use to describe the je ne sais quoi of crops harvested in any given locale.

"'Grapes, chocolates, coffee, these are all incredibly good at soaking up their environments and spitting them out in their fruits,' said Cole, who oversees the preening and pampering of more than 500 acres of vines planted at the Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa County.

"That vineyard is a test bed for a new wireless sensing technology that measures soil wetness, wind speed, temperature and humidity to take the statistical pulse of the vineyard's microclimates to help determine how often and how much to irrigate."

You can read the story here.

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