Winemaking giant Treasury Wine Estates has partnered with agtech start-up The Yield and Yamaha to better predict grape yield and improve autonomous crop spraying using robots.
The 18-month project, announced on Thursday, will take place in TWE’s Australian vineyards later this year, as well as on the West Coast of the United States early next year.
It will see the ASX-listed company use a “joint solution” consisting of Yamaha’s robotics platform and The Yield’s microclimate sensing analytics and AI platform, Sensing+.
The trial is aimed at improving “harvest predication accuracy by gathering growth stage data through visual data collection,” the companies said in a statement.
It will also “test and develop emerging autonomous robot technology, and optimise spray effectiveness by integrating weather data and spray guidelines”.
The Yield’s founder and managing director Ros Harvey said that the company’s microclimate and growth state predictions made it possible to double spray effectiveness.
“We know from customers in Australia that we can double the effective spray windows for robots using our patented microclimate and growth state predictions,” she said.
“This improves robotic spray efficiency and effectiveness while improving environmental performance.
“At the same time, the robots can passively collect visual data that we can feed back into our algorithms to continually improve them. It’s a win-win.”
TWE company vineyards general manager Greg Pearce said that with such a large global agricultural footprint, the company is “committed to taking an integrated approach to sustainability”.
He said this included “investing in new technology and innovations to adopt to the climate trends impacting our business”.
“TWE is proud of our ongoing partnership with The Yield to improve the predictability of weather and climate, crop yield, harvest timing and fruit grading – all critical drivers of wine quality,” he said.
“This latest industry-leading collaboration brings together our viticulture and winemaking expertise with world class robotics and automation to enable us to better predict optimal harvest opportunities and efficiently irrigate our vineyards.”
Following the project, The Yield and Yamaha intend to commercialise a “joint solution for intensive irrigated crops” in early 2023.