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Beyond the vigour map: having identified the degree of variability in the vineyard, it is essential to identify the most suitable management method

Uniform or enhance existing variability?

Once the "Preliminary studies for the implementation of the Plan" have been completed and the pedological and agronomic bases for the intracellular variability of the vineyard, clearly identifiable in the vigour map, have been identified, it becomes fundamentally important to clarify the most appropriate way of managing this variability which, if not taken into due consideration, could lead to inefficiency, waste and an increase in the environmental impact of viticulture. It is interesting to note that the most convenient strategy can in some cases be identified in solutions aimed at standardising the existing variability towards a condition of vigour considered optimal with respect to the prefixed oenological objectives or, in other cases, in the valorisation of the existing variability in order to increase the added value of the grapes through a selective harvest followed by a differentiation of process and product.

This decision is indispensable to a rigorous ground validation of the vigour maps that allows on the one hand to identify the pedological bases of the variability and, on the other hand, to associate to each vigour class the real physiological state of the plant and to identify the oenological potential of the grapes. On the basis of this operation, better known as ground-truthing, for each vigour area the most appropriate management plan can be developed (e.g. differentiated fertilisation plan between areas of different vigour), converting the vigour map into a prescription map that will then be implemented when distributing inputs (e.g. fertiliser, sowing, plant protection products) thanks to variable rate technologies.

Similarly, once the state of ripeness of the grapes has been verified in the field according to the different classes of vigour and the most appropriate oenological destination has been identified for each of them, it is possible to proceed with the creation of a "prescription" map which, etymologically, should propose to the winegrower the most appropriate "recipes" to use in order to take advantage of the present variability. These maps, geo-referenced, will then be connected, through the most innovative mechatronic solutions, to an operating machine capable of adapting its operating intensity to the prescription map since it is equipped with technologies that can physically separate the riper harvest from the more unripe harvest in two separate hoppers by means of a sudden change in the direction of movement of the conveyor belts of the harvesting machine.

Site-specific applications of temporary autumn-spring grassing and of copper with an anti-downy mildew function, as well as manual and mechanical selective harvesting are currently being tested in the vineyards belonging to the Ripreso Operational Group.

Published on: 08/09/2021
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