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Avigere project

avigere3The conference on the "Avigere Project", held on 18 March 2014, in the splendid setting of Palazzo Steri, home of the University of Palermo, dealt with the issues of precision viticulture with the necessary scientific rigour; the speakers illustrated the applications of site-specific agronomic management that the partner companies have practiced in their own production reality.

The final event of the project, financed by the Regional Agriculture Department with measure 124 of the PSR 2007/2013, had an audience made up of technicians, students of the degree course in viticulture and oenology, agronomists and engineers, wine entrepreneurs and representatives of agricultural machinery manufacturing companies, to which the speakers provided information on the results achieved.

The problems linked to the different method of acquisition (Satellite or Proximal) of the NDVI index, to evaluate the vigor of the vineyard, had little influence on the consequent agronomic management aspects adopted; this confirms the reliability of the index chosen as the cognitive basis of the existing variability. This variability in the plots of Catarratto, Grillo, Grecanico and Nero d'Avola, in relation to the parameters Vigor (NDVI) and Soil water status (CSWI), was found to be stable in space and from one year to the next (high R2 coefficients ) while, regarding the qualitative parameters of the grapes such as Sugars, Total Acidity, pH, Anthocyanins, the results are greatly affected by the variable meteorological trend, ("vintage effect"), and present medium-low values of R2.

All the information layers acquired from the remote and proximal sensing platforms, the cartography existing in the companies, the basic one (e.g. CTR and orthophoto) and all the "layers" that the individual companies Donnafugata, Settesoli, Tasca d'Almerita, Rapitalà, create , flow into the Territorial Information System which has been specifically configured and uses the Open source software "QGIS". The WebGIS tool (www.webgisavigere.it) allows the online usability of the information layers present in the GIS.

Weather information is acquired online with a WSN (wireless sensor network) installed in the guide vineyards and transmitted via web to the companies.

At the conference, the part of the operational technical manual was presented, concerning the summary sheets, which offer the reader a brief but comprehensive overview of the topics covered in Avigere. The manual is being printed and will be distributed by next April.

With this project we wanted to indicate an innovative path towards sustainable production, hypothesizing management models that lead to greater efficiency in the use of irrigation water and in the protection of the vine (reduction in the number of interventions and doses of active ingredient per hectare) but also in cultural interventions (pruning, fertilization, harvest), making use of "prescription maps" produced in time and provided to the technicians of the partner companies.

A need that emerged with Avigere is that relating to training on the topics of precision viticulture and the awareness that an ever greater integration of knowledge between engineering, agricultural, IT and statistical sciences is appropriate.

Thanks to the AVIGERE project, it is possible to implement a management system which integrates: site-specific and geo-referenced monitoring of infinite data relating to environmental, biological, physical and chemical parameters, data interpretation and the production of decision-making support models; with the prescription maps, it is possible to implement the variable execution of cultivation technique interventions, in relation to specific needs.

An important evolutionary step is expected in the near future with the introduction of analysis, management and traceability means into companies, capable of keeping under control a multitude of factors that are unthinkable today. In fact, the transition from traditional techniques set with the four cornerstones of the "green revolution" (mechanization, chemical products, irrigation and varietal selection) to the nascent intelligent agriculture (smart farming), considered in precision viticulture, is underway.

The project manager, Dr. Felice Capraro



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