Combining Tradition and Technology: IoT Solutions for Optimal Wine Production
Climate change tests the knowledge acquired over years of vineyard experience and tradition. What was once certain (harvesting took place in September and flowering occurred in April) is now at the mercy of rising temperatures.
While the world works to achieve net zero, vineyards must adapt to the new climate.
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Tradition and innovation in Zaragoza’s vineyards
Bodegas Langa is currently the main winery in Calatayud. The winery is located at the foot of the emblematic Sierra Vicor, in the territory of El Frasno, within the Calatayud region. Some of its vines are over a century old due to the care of an uninterrupted family tradition. The Langa family founded the D.O.P. Calatayud in 1989, and they managed to have Bodegas Langa recognized as a historical company by the CAVA Regulatory Council.
Today, Juan and César Langa González represent the fifth generation of a family that, over 150 years, has been faithful to the inherited tradition while incorporating the necessary advances to adapt to the increasing demands in wine-making.
Like the rest of the wine industry, the Langa family has seen how the phenological calendar of the vineyards has been impacted by global warming. Currently, harvesting is already taking place 15 days earlier than it used to half a century ago. According to algorithmic models and climate change scenarios, and depending on the grape variety, these changes could worsen throughout the 21st century, advancing the harvest between 2 and 2.5 months to avoid the high temperatures that are already occurring in September in the northern hemisphere.
ℹ Behind the change: Digitization for wine excellence
The installation of an intelligent Smart Agriculture solution from Libelium at Bodegas Langa represents “a great opportunity to take another step towards excellence,” in the words of César Langa, Technical Director of Bodegas Langa. “We are used to making decisions based on historical knowledge of the area, our workers, the tradition of operations, and often we wondered if the decisions we made were well taken. We needed to make decisions based on objective data that gave us a real vision of what the status is at a given moment. And not only to know but also to optimize the resources we have,” says César.
César Langa is part of the innovative generation of farmers who have enthusiastically embraced the potential of new technologies, allowing him to acquire deep knowledge of his production without facing the difficulties that his ancestors had to endure in agricultural work.
The knowledge treasured by the intuition and know-how of a long tradition is now supplemented by artificial intelligence provided by Libelium’s IoT technology.
The solution installed in their vineyards is Plug & Sense! Smart Agriculture PRO, that measures the most important parameters for this type of cultivation:
- Soil moisture (installed 30 cm below the ground)
- Soil moisture (installed 2 meters below the ground)
- Leaf moisture
- Air humidity
- Air temperature
- Atmospheric pressure
- Wind direction and speed
- Rain gauge
Maintaining an optimal level of moisture in leaves and soil ensures that the vines can adequately absorb nutrients. In an excessively wet leaf, fertilizer is diluted and loses its impact on the crop. It is wasted money and, ultimately, punishes the soil for future harvests.
In addition, monitoring the moisture of both soil, air, and leaves is essential in the prevention of fungal diseases in the vineyard. Prolonged humid environments can favor the proliferation of fungi and bacteria, which can result in terrible diseases for the vine, such as mildew, botrytis, or powdery mildew.
✅ Beyond the challenge: Anticipating climate change
The combination of Plug & Sense! and farmB allows for the management of critical soil and crop data. The solution provides a complete set of services and applications for collecting, processing, and visualizing information. In a simple and intuitive way, farmB enables the holistic evaluation of information collected in the field from IoT solutions like Libelium Plug & Sense! Smart Agriculture, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles, agricultural machinery, or agricultural robotics, among other technologies. It combines all this data with Artificial Intelligence to provide end-users with precise and concrete answers to potential day-to-day problems in the field.
Now, Bodegas Langa will be able to benefit from the implementation of intelligent solutions in its vineyards:
1) Optimization of natural resource use
IoT technology allows for precise monitoring of water consumption, temperature, soil humidity, and other environmental factors. This information helps viticulturists make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and other treatments, which reduces water and other resource waste and contributes to a more sustainable and ecologically-friendly approach to viticulture.
2) Improved product quality
Real-time monitoring of environmental conditions and crop health helps in the early detection of any vine health problems, such as pests or diseases. This is especially important in a Designation of Origin like Cariñena, where the quality and distinctive flavor of the wine are fundamental to success in the market.
3) Increased vine efficiency
IoT technology can automate processes and tasks in the vineyard, such as irrigation, fertilization, and climate monitoring. This reduces the need for manual intervention and required labor, which can result in cost reductions for producers. At the same time, accurate data collection allows viticulturists to make data-based decisions and adapt their practices to the specific conditions of each plot, which can increase vine efficiency and productivity.
4) Greater shared knowledge of the vine
Vines are living entities. The creation of sampling point maps not only supports data-driven decisions but also allows vital information to be shared in real-time between team members in the field and outside of it.
5) Improved quality of life for the viticulturist
Although, as César Langa says, the viticulturist will always have to step into the field (out of loyalty to nature, their product, and tradition), connected agriculture makes life easier for the professional and allows for a deeper understanding of their environment.
“My grandfather used to say that the grapes he worked with were better than the ones we work with. And it was true,” says César Langa, adding: “We set out to achieve the same quality as our grandfather’s grapes with the technology of We work on an orderly, sustainable and rational viticulture in which common sense prevails over quantity, which prevails over the fact that the plant follows its own rhythms rather than the rhythms that we want to impose on them.”
We hope that Libelium’s technology will allow César Langa and Bodegas Langa to have the best quality grapes possible and help them run the vineyard with the best possible information for future generations.
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