Third-generation grape grower Matt Pooley has worked at his family’s hillside estate for 25 years. During this time, Matt has experienced the extreme highs and lows of cool-climate grape growing – from harvesting award-winning vintages to losing a portion of crops to bad weather.
Ahead of the game
To remain one step ahead of climate events around the vineyard, Matt monitors a variety of conditions throughout the day, as well as constantly checking different weather apps. If a report from Matt’s nearest public weather station suggests an event – such as frost – is on its way, Matt can’t afford the luxury of 8-hours sleep. He’ll be up every few hours to check the reports, ready to protect the grapes with water once he thinks frost conditions have been reached.
When we spoke to Matt about the benefit of Pooley’s using Sensing+, he explained how having a micro-level view of growing conditions helps him to streamline decision-making.
“As a grower, it has always been difficult to have concrete data to hang your hat on. By using this technology more instantaneous decisions can be made and be more accurate. The data and information coming in from behind the scenes can help me be more decisive, and able to take action quicker.”
Keeping track of activities
Prior to using Sensing+, most of Matt’s decisions and activities were largely stored in his head. Two of the biggest advantages of the technology, he says, is that it can send notifications and safely store important details – thus removing the burden from him.
As an example, by using the Sensing+ mobile app to schedule and record spray activity, Matt has a digital record for compliance and OH&S. Once his system has recorded enough historical data, Matt also believes it will become a useful planning tool.
“Combing weather data with an important operation like spraying means that, in future, I can pull up the records and say the weather was doing this, this person took this action, and this is what the level was,” he says. “The year before then becomes the basis of the following season’s operations. For example, if we had a powdery mildew outbreak last year, the data might tell us where there's an opportunity to take earlier action this year.”
Having reliable evidence to hand also reinforces what Matt often knows by instinct. “We had a relatively dry period early last year, which meant we needed to apply irrigation more effectively,” Matt recalls. “A lot of that decision was made on gut feel – but Sensing+ will be able to tell us more accurately. Having that flexibility to adapt during the growing season is critical,” he explains.