Hahn Family Wines, established in 1980, needed a solution to manage soil moisture levels for its vineyards. This family-owned winery is home to 650 acres of estate vineyards, with roots dating back to the 1790s when Spanish missionaries realized the rare soils in Monterey, California were ideal for grapevines.
For the past few years, water-strapped California has been in a serious drought, so every drop of water is sacred to ensure the survival of the state's wine industry.
To better understand the irrigation needs of the vines and increase the watering precision, Hahn Family Wines worked in tandem with Verizon (a sponsor of the Digital Future Alliance) to install Internet of Things (IoT) AgTech sensors on each block of grapevines.
These sensors measure temperature and humidity, which communicate or "talk" through a transceiver. Based on that data, soil moisture monitors can measure water volume at different soil depths. That information helps flow meters gauge the amount of water to apply. Sensors in the field are also connected to a gateway housed in a "weather station" to measure wind speed and direction, humidity, rainfall, and photosynthetic radiation from the sun's rays. This allows for precision in water-use, resulting in a 30% decrease in use with increased uniformity and higher yields at Hahn Family Wines.
The California legislature is now considering legislation, Senate Bill 649, that will provide further relief from antiquated agricultural and farming practices, and help drive much-needed innovation in agriculture, including intelligent irrigation solutions, animal health, and equipment performance. SB 649 will streamline processes for deploying wireless network equipment that will enable faster, more reliable connections that power IoT technology, just like that used at Hahn Family Wines.
Winemaking is one of the oldest trades around, but the wine industry has evolved with the times and adopted new techniques to grow high-quality grapes for harvest. In Northern California, two winemakers are blending wireless internet connectivity and mobile devices with traditional methods and could make this new hybrid a common practice in the industry.
Michael David Winery, located in Lodi, CA, is a certified sustainable and family-farmed winery that enlisted SureHarvest software to monitor and manage its vineyards online.While in the field, the team uses tablets and mobile hotspots to immediately record irrigation, pests, fertilization, soil, and mildew activity in real-time with the help of Verizon’s wireless network. Whether the team is in the vineyard or at home, monitoring in real-time helps maximize the chance of a successful, high-quality harvest.
Mount Veeder Magic Vineyards, meanwhile, is a hand-farmed vineyard located in the in the Napa Valley’s premium Mount Veeder Appellation. They use the eKo Pro Environment Monitoring System, a wireless, solar-powered irrigation management system that pulls data about soil moisture from below-ground sensors. The vineyard management team uses mobile devices to access this data, even while away from the vineyard, and help control irrigation in real time.
“Since we started using the wireless irrigation system, we have been able to conserve and maximize our water usage, resulting in improved quality of my grapes,” said Karen Crouse, owner/grower of Mount Veeder Magic Vineyards. “It has also allowed us to fine tune our farming practices so precisely doubled the average yield to date.”
IoT solutions, powered by next generation network technology, have the potential to revolutionize all industries — even those that date back centuries. But to bring these modern capabilities to our fields, factories, and home offices, we first need policies that encourage investment in the wireless network technology that delivers the Internet of Things. Support SB 649, and help bring the digital future to all California businesses; large and small, old and new, sparkling or still.