AI to help the wine flow

by Anonymous Author

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been making waves in many industries and now the New Zealand wine sector is getting in on the act, thanks to a research and development company owned by Lincoln University.

Selwyn based Lincoln Agritech Ltd has developed a computerised system to make early-season predictions on a grape yield more accurate.

“Grape growers and wineries spend a lot of money trying to predict their grape yield each year,” Lincoln Agritech Optics and Image Processing leader Dr Jaco Fourie said.

“This currently involves hiring a large number of workers to manually sample grape bunches.”

Dr Fourie said they are currently working on creating a more convenient system that uses electronic sensors to accurately count grapes.

“The sensors will capture and analyse grape bunches within individual rows, and assess the number, sizes and distribution of grape bunches,” says Dr Fourie.

“We’ll then feed this data into computer algorithms which have been designed by the University of Canterbury to predict grape yield at harvest time.” 

He said new data will be added to the system each year, leading to continuous improvements in the model’s accuracy, with the system’s predictive power (AI) improving over time as more data is gathered under different conditions.

Dr Fourie said profitable wine production depends on early knowledge of the grape yield that is likely to be harvested each season.

“Estimating the yield as soon as possible allows marketers to know how much wine will end up being produced.”

The main focus of grape varieties for the study is Sauvignon Blanc, after which they will identify how much technology development will be needed for Pinot Noir.