The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Drones join battle against vine disease

Image - DronesUnmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as a drones, are usually deployed (and are certainly best known for) military and special operations, sometimes in a surveillance role but often in a combat capacity. However, there are a growing number of civilian applications, including work in policing, firefighting and nonmilitary security roles.

Additionally, drones are increasingly deployed on infrastructure projects such as inspecting power lines or pipelines, and in New Zealand a drone fitted with cameras entered the earthquake damaged Christchurch Cathedral to provide the first images of the interior since the building was red-stickered.

In France, they are looking to use drones to protect precious grape vines in vineyards. An unlikely alliance of Burgundy’s wine council, Airbus air defense engineers and Bordeaux wine magnate Bernard Magrez have agreed to provide funding to test the use of drones to detect killer vine diseases. The project, which is already into the second phase following ‘promising’ initial trials, will be part funded by the French Government.

The priority is to detect the early signs of flavescence doree disease; a relatively new vine illness that has no known cure. However, drones could help with other diseases too. “It’s not science fiction,” said the consortium. “Images obtained using drones and interpreted using sophisticated analysis systems will, in the near future, constitute a key instrument of diagnosis for growers. That would stop winemakers from having to check every single vine,” said a spokesman.

In January this year, wine magnate Bernard Magrez, who is part of the group, said he would begin using drones to analyse vines in his four classified estates in Bordeaux.

Source: Decanter