16 December – Dr. Yishai Netzer, an expert on applied physiology and development of skilled irrigation methods for wine grapes, recently completed a revolutionary irrigation experiment concluding that in 90% of cases, SupPlant’s smart plant sensors can showcase the vine’s stem water potential just as well as a pressure chamber.
Dr. Netzer is a Ph.D of agronomy at Ariel University, and Eastern R&D Center Israel. He completed the experiment along with Dr. Noa Ohana-Levi, a data scientist. The irrigation experiment was conducted in a ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ vineyard near Kibbutz Merav in Israel since the 2017 growing season. The project is based on a joint effort between Eastern R&D Center, SupPlant, and Variability to generate an estimation model for SWP (stem water potential ) at a daily scale.
The experiment checked the water stress estimation based on information acquired by smart sensors produced by SupPlant, an Israeli AgTech company. The experiment has shown that SupPlant’s sensors can predict midday stem water potential just as well as a pressure chamber in 90% accuracy. Stem water potential, usually used to indicate plant water stress as a key parameter for irrigation and for controlling vine yields and wine quality.
It is important not to irrigate wine grapes at 100% of maximal water consumption, in order to create water stress in the vines. The dryness of the grape creates more polyphenols and anthocyanins and an interesting flavor. In many vineyards around the world, a pressure chamber is used in order to check the vineyard’s drought stress level: A leaf from the vine is inserted into the pressure chamber to check the stem’s water potential. The disadvantage of the pressure chamber which is used widely is time and work invested in the process.
SupPlant’s sensors are placed on the plants and their surroundings which communicate to the cloud what the plant is sensing, and translates that data, through the use of artificial intelligence and big data to irrigation recommendations and actionable insights. SupPlant uses all the data accumulated about 32 crops from 14 countries to create the best knowledge base. SupPlant’s sensors are placed in 5 locations of the plant (deep soil, shallow soil, stem/trunk, leaf and grape) and monitor plant and fruit growth patterns, the actual water content in the soil and plant health data. In addition to this data, SupPlant monitors real-time and forecasted climatic data and forecasted plant growth patterns. All this info is uploaded every 10 minutes to an algorithm in the cloud that provides farmers with precise irrigation recommendations based on the integration of all this data.
“At first we were sceptical regarding the sensors’ abilities, but the results proved themselves and were impressive and surprising” says Dr. Yishai Netzer. “The fact that SupPlant’s sensors can predict midday stem water potential just as well as a pressure chamber in 90% accuracy is a true game changer.”
“SupPlant is proud to be able to use our sensors in order to replace the pressure chamber in vineyards” says Ori Ben Ner, CEO of SupPlant. “SupPlant’s sensors will now not only help farmers with precise irrigation recommendations and insights, but also help them determine what needs to be done and when with each grape.”