Australia has included remote sensing and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in its research, with plans to apply the technology to monitoring pests and diseases in agriculture and viticulture, with a view to providing growers with accurate and rapid assessments of vineyard conditions.
Image from: Chinese and foreign grapes and wines
The Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the Queensland State Government, the NSW Department of Basic Industries, Kansas State University and the Department of Economic Development, Employment, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) are collaborating on remote sensing and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to improve their ability to monitor pests and diseases in agriculture and viticulture.
As part of the project, in 2016 and 2017 QUT collaborated with researchers from the Victorian Department of Agricultural Research (DEDJTR) to use drones in phylloxera-infested vineyards, using advanced sensors to capture images of the vineyards to assess pest infestations.
The drone is equipped with an RGB HD camera and a multispectral camera to collect aerial images from different vineyards. The data collected from the drone is then used to generate an aerial view of the vegetation and compare it to an uninfected vineyard, which can show if the vineyard is infested with phylloxera.
By comparing the captured data with baseline data, the vigor of each vine can be estimated and compared to expert ground-based assessments. Multispectral and hyperspectral cameras can be collected to generate vegetation indicator data that highlight pest symptoms.
What inspired researchers to use drones to detect pests in viticulture? Professor Felipe Gonzalez, one of the researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, said they realized that investigating the Phylloxera Infested Zone (PIZ), the Phylloxera RiskZone (PrZ) and the Phylloxera Exclusion Zone ( There are challenges with the Phylloxera Exclusion Zone (PEZ) and the considerable costs involved in replanting vineyards if Phylloxera is present, which can have an impact on growers and the industry as a whole. They hope to use their technical expertise in remote sensing technology from drones, combined with scientific knowledge of phylloxera and plant biosecurity monitoring, to help growers and the industry as a whole.
The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a more economical, rapid, and effective practice for monitoring and managing pests in vineyards and other crops.
The benefits of using drones are numerous. The speed of collecting data, the high resolution cameras that allow them to sense each vineyard remotely, and the ability to use multiple sensors and geo-align the data collected. Most importantly, the use of drones is a non-invasive approach with no contact with the crop and less risk of pest spread to other parts of the vineyard.
This technology provides growers with an accurate and rapid assessment of vineyard condition. The maps allow growers to see vineyards that are already infested, areas that are at higher risk and individual plants that need attention. Another benefit for growers is that drones can scan large areas of soil and assist in the early detection of phylloxera or other types of infestations or other problems such as irrigation system failures.
Research has shown that drone technology can be used for the impact of other types of pests such as gray mold, downy mildew, apple light brown leafroller moth (LBAM), mealybugs, nematodes and powdery mildew. This technology can also be applied to other tasks in the vineyard, and with the right sensors and software tools, the technology can be used to measure pesticide sprays, estimate crop yields and remotely assess sugar content during harvest or during frost.