Fine wines sourced from premium vines
Tahbilk Winery is a family owned Australian winery located 120 kilometres north of Melbourne in the Goulburn Valley Wine Region. Established in 1860, Tahbilk is located in one of Australia’s premium viticultural areas.
Tahbilk is home to some 300 hectares of vineyards specialising in grape varietals from the Rhone region in France. One of “Australia’s First Families of Wine” and with over 150 years of winemaking experience, Tahbilk has a long history of producing fine wines with the help of rich soils and a temperate climate.
How the Tahbilk team use Sensing+
The team at the Tahbilk vineyard have been using The Yield’s Sensing+ solution for just over a season now and have already realised the value and benefits of the system.
Initially, Sensing+ was used by the team to gauge soil moisture across the root zone at 20, 40, 60 and 80cm. However, they have come to discover more wide-ranging benefits of the system, including:
- Weather forecasting - Sensing+ predicts microclimate conditions affecting the vines up to 7 days in advance, as well as gridded weather data up to 14 days in advance. The team at Tahbilk found that rainfall figures were more accurate and longer-range in Sensing+ than in other data sources. This in turn, allowed the team to adjust vineyard irrigation and the fungicide spray program to suit recent rainfall events.
- Irrigation decisions - Using point or microclimate data, the team was able to accurately assess and forecast the vineyard water balance to ensure optimum growth and vine stress.
- Best practice spray decisions - The team has the Sensing+ app installed on their phones. The app shows wind and temperature levels in real-time which enables them to stop or adjust spray timing. They can optimise their efforts, and budget, to ensure sprays are hitting the mark and not causing any damage to the vines.
- Risk mitigation - Site managers have set up notifications to alert staff of any unsuitable weather conditions that may affect the vines. The team also use the Sensing+ mobile app while out in the vineyard. They can take a picture, drop a pin on a map and notify their managers regarding any potential issues such as Botrytis or Powdery Mildew.
Insights to drive precision decision making
The Yield’s Sensing+ solution was installed at the Tahbilk vineyard in August 2018. Over the past 18 months, the team has used the data and insights they receive from the system to adapt their vineyard cultivation practices.
Richard Flatman, Tahbilk’s Group Viticulturist, believes that Sensing+ “sure does make management decisions easier” and that the use of the solution has resulted in significant resource optimisation and cost savings for the vineyard.
“Over the past season, we have learnt a lot about the information we are receiving from Sensing+ and we have altered our irrigation program to suit”, Richard said.
“As we are all aware, we have been in drought for the past two years and it is only going to get hotter and drier, and water is going to become more expensive to purchase. We are very lucky here at Tahbilk, we have very good water rights, however, we may not get full allocations each year. Also, we wholeheartedly believe that we should be doing our best to conserve this precious resource.”
“We have learnt that there is no benefit to yield or quality if we push water past the 80cm point - we have no vine roots there. What we should be doing is trying to encourage the vine roots deeper so that in the drought years they have more area to mine nutrients and water.”
“Some will argue that we have bigger crops in wet years. Absolutely we will. This is due to the whole vineyard getting wet including the vine roots in the mid-row that see no benefit from irrigation water no matter how much you leave the tap on.”
“We are currently just starting a very hot spell of weather. With the help of The Yield, we can make sure that we have good water right throughout the soil profile, which will give the vines the best way to fight this heat. We increased our watering times to make sure this happened. Now that we have water deep, we can turn the tap down again and just make sure that the soil remains moist.”
“We may not see water savings every year due to the drought, but we will certainly not be wasting water,” he said.