German Vineyards Test Solution for Measuring Growing Conditions

The TracoVino system, which includes MyOmega's sensor hardware and app and Ericsson's cloud platform, provides data that can help winemakers decide when to water, fertilize and harvest their grapes.
By Claire Swedberg

Each sensor unit can measure the humidity and temperature levels of the air, as well as solar intensity and the moisture and temperature of the soil. The device is mounted onto a pole, while a probe for measuring temperature and moisture is inserted into the soil. The sensor unit forwards measurements at 868 MHz via a Texas Instruments (TI) Sub-1 RF system-on-chip—at regular intervals that the winemaker can preset—to the MYNXG Controller, which then sends that data to MyOmega's cloud-based server via the cellular network.

Winemakers then use a TracoVino app provided by MyOmega to view the sensor data in real time via an iOS and Android smartphone or other device. With that information, the winemaker, drawing from his or her own experience as well, can make decisions regarding the optimal time and location for watering, as well as for the application of fertilizer and fungicides. The data can also be used to determine the best time for harvesting.

A temperature and moisture probe, wired to a MyOmega sensor unit, is inserted into the soil.
The testing will continue throughout the winter season and beyond, Olin says, and Ericsson and MyOmega will review the results early next year. "We expect them to be proven in the Q1 in line with our high-quality requirements," he states, adding that the pilots will then continue indefinitely. "We want to test low-light sleep modes [in which the system sends data less frequently] during the winter."

The data also enabled winegrowers to track soil-moisture levels and other conditions, in an effort to reduce the amount of plant and insect pests. The growers can compare the sensor-measured conditions with infestation rates to create a catalog of pesticide, fungicide and insect infestations that are causing diseases and the related conditions per disease. The software can also be used to store pest and infection data, along with the condition reports.

In the future, Olin says, the system could then be utilized to generate alerts for winegrowers based on such conditions as soil temperature or moisture levels that are likely to result in pests or infections.

Ericsson's Anders Olin
According to Olin, the vineyard pilots illustrate one of the multiple ways in which IoT-based sensors can provide valuable data to companies or organizations. "This is one application, but the secure IoT connectivity solution could be used in many applications," he says, citing a variety of examples, such as the tracking of conditions for utility companies, smart buildings, automotive applications, transportation and national security.

"With the evolution of sensors and standardization, the cost [of the technology] will continue to drop," Olin says, "and the sensors will require less power." This, he adds, will open the door for more installations of the secure IoT connectivity solution.

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