The majority of Susan’s precision agriculture research has focused on vineyards. The ability to optimize winegrape production necessitates an understanding of the factors that influence their spatial and temporal variability, including soils, climate, plants and management practices. While a significant fraction of precision viticulture has focused on investigating the link between winegrape parameters and above-ground factors (such as the training, cultivation, and harvest timing of the grapes), soil properties, which control water drainage, are critically important to winegrape quality. However, characterizing soils using traditional methods (such as by digging backhoe pits or collecting point measurements) has challenges, as these methods are laborious, invasive, and provide information at a single point in time/space only. Through using ground and airborne based geophysical methods, together with sparse point information, we strive to characterize the variability of soil and grapevine variability, and their co-variability, as well as to understand how soil hydrochemical properties influence grapevine behavior. Our work includes laboratory and field investigations as well as new sensing and data fusion approaches. Our objective is to develop tractable approaches that honor the natural variability of the ecosystem that can be used to guide vineyard management decisions, including planting and remediation.
My precision agriculture research focuses on two areas:
- Interpretation and integration of non-invasive and spatially exhaustive geophysical data with sparse direct soil measurements to estimate vineyard soil parameter spatial distributions over space and time. For example, we have investigated the applicability of ground penetrating radar (GPR) methods to provide very high resolution estimates of near surface water content within several California vineyards. Comparison of our geophysical estimates with conventional measurements of water content, soil texture and plant vigor measurements has illustrated that the estimates are accurate and reliable, and that water content, soil texture and plant vigor are correlated.
- Use of geophysically-obtained information, integrated with micrometerological information using statistical and water balance modeling approaches, to guide optimal development of vineyards. We have developed statistical methods and assessed the benefit of utilizing a wide variety of surface geophysical, soils, climate, digital elevation, and plant data to guide the optimal development of vineyards (such as the row and vine spacing and irrigation parameters). This approach honors the natural variability of the site, and permits uniform development of winegrapes within vineyard blocks and efficient use of irrigation water. These approaches are also useful for delinating and determining the cause of poor performing vineyard areas.
Precision Viticulture Press Releases
- Hubbard’s research used to guide vineyard development and optimized viticulture at Mila Family Vineyards
- Wine Enthusiast (‘Water into Wine’, May 2009)
- CNN “[email protected]” Nov. 1, 2003: CNN Video Clip
- Wine Business Monthly (Volume X, No. 11, p. 35, Nov. 2003)
- USDA NRI Highlight (2006)
- California Agriculture (Vol. 58, Number 1, Jan. 2004)
- The Economist: Wine Making and Radar – A penetrating result (Dec. 18, 2003)
- Der Spiegel (Dec. 2003, Germany)
- Science News: Global Vineyard-Can technology take on warming climate? (May 29, 2004)
- California Farmer Magazine (Dec., 2003)
- Vitaviniccultura (Oct. 2003, Chili)
- The Daily Cal
- Corriere (Italy)
- ASA/CSSA/SSSA and VZJ
- Today at Berkeley Lab – Radar used to grow better wine grapes (Oct. 28, 2003)
- Fall AGU04 Media Field Trip: Geophysics of Winemaking TECH TV (Nov. 18, 2003)