Archive for the ‘Research Grant’ Category

THE EXTREME EFFECTS of climate change are taking their toll on the viticulture industry, making the future of vineyards here and abroad uncertain. Which is why University of Melbourne wine science lecturer Dr Sigfredo Fuentes and a team of researchers around the world are developing a project to better arm the industry against that change. Vineyard of the Future (VoF) is being conducted in Australia, Chile, Spain and the US.

Full Article: VOF 2014 IR

News from Chile – VoF

Posted: December 30, 2013 by vineyardofthefuture in About the project, News, Projects, Research Grant > Actualidad > 26/12/2013

Durante los días 18 y 19 de noviembre del presente

Importante Dr. de Australia dictó charlas en la Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas de la UTA

Dr. Sigfredo Fuentes del Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, Melbourne School of Land&EnvironmentUniversity of Melbourne y MEMBER OF THE VINEYARD OF THE FUTURE (VoF) INITIATIVE, Australia

Publicado por Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas

Imagen foto_00000001Durante los días 18 y 19 de noviembre del presente año, en el marco del proyecto MECESUP UTA 1102 “Especialización interactiva y práctica de los estudiantes de la Carrera de Agronomía de la Universidad de Tarapacá, para el mejoramiento del desempeño laboral en el área de riego y fertirrigación como eje principal de una agricultura sustentable”, la Universidad de Tarapacá conto con la visita del Dr. Sigfredo Fuentes delDepartment of Agriculture and Food Systems, Melbourne School of Land & Environment University of Melbourne y MEMBER OF THE VINEYARD OF THE FUTURE (VoF) INITIATIVE, Australia.

El Dr. Fuentes, es ingeniero agrónomo de la Universidad de Talca, Chile y Doctor of Philosophy(PhD) at the Centrefor Plantand Food Science(PaFS), University of Western Sydney, Australia en Fisiología de Plantas y Riego, con mas de 40 publicaciones ISI. Durante su visita, dictó varias charlas para estudiantes en la Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas de nuestra universidad, basada en los efectos del cambio climático en la agricultura y las nuevas y emergentes tecnologías para la investigación y adaptación a estos efectos. Destacando la utilización de drones (controladores de vuelos no tripulados y automatización para la toma de datos) llamados multicopters, cámaras infrarrojas y cámaras multiespectrales.

Gracias a su experiencia de trabajo en Australia, el Dr. Fuentes explico a los alumnos cómo en ese país han optimizado el riego para fines agrícolas, con el fin de ser más eficientes en el uso del agua y así mitigar la escasez de agua producto del cambio climático que esta sufriendo ese país. Además, presentó las nuevas tecnologías utilizadas hoy en día para monitorear el estado fisiológico de las plantas y el estado hídrico del suelo, ambos a tiempo reales. Todo esto, se realiza como se menciona anteriormente, mediante el uso de multicopters, para obtener los datos de los sensores de humedad de suelo, sensores instalados en las plantas, imágenes satelitales, estaciones meteorológicas, fotos infrarrojas cercanas y lejanas, entre otras. Con esta charla, los alumnos de la carrera de agronomía de la Universidad de Tarapacá, conocieron otra realidad, y las tecnologías de punta en Australia y a nivel mundial, toman medidas para mitigar los efectos del calentamiento global, siempre ligados al ámbito agrícola. Es importante considerar, que el grupo de trabajo del Dr. Fuentes, esta utilizando técnicas que puedan ser accesible, especialmente, con los sistemas de teléfonos celulares para medir el índice foliar, obtener fotografías para subirlas a plataformas de sistemas espectrales y así, evaluar el estado hídrico de las plantas, pero a nivel de extensiones grande de cultivos. En este ámbito, se esta redactando proyecto FONDEF IDEASen conjuntocon la Universidad de Talca (CITRA), Universidad de Melbourne y la Universidad de Tarapacá, para comenzar verdadera cooperación entre las universidades y firmar los convenios respectivos.

Imagen foto_00000002

Dr. Sigfredo Fuentes dictando charla sobre el cambio climático en la Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas de la Universidad de Tarapacá.

By Sigfredo Fuentes; Bruna Lima, Maeva Caron and Kate Howell


Figure 1: 3D model of the robotic pourer.


Figure 2: Inside and outside of actual pourer.

The Australian wine industry contributes strongly to the country’s economy (Lin, 2013). Australia is the sixth largest wine producer and the fourth largest wine exporter (WFA, 2013). Sparkling wine accounts for approximately 9% of the domestic wine sales and 13% of total wine imports in Australia (ABS, 2013). Wines with dissolved carbon dioxide are also economically important for several countries, France, Spain, Italy, USA, and Chile (IWSR, 2011; CIVC, 2013). Increase in temperature and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have shown to affect flavour and aroma of wines (Johnson and Robinson, 2013), decrease protein concentration in plants (Högy et al., 2009; Azam et al., 2013; Mishra et al., 2013) and increase alcohol in wines (Howden and Stokes, 2009). Consequently, climate change is expected to influence the final quality of sparkling wine, since several compounds, including protein concentration and alcohol are related to foam stability and the ability of the wine to produce foam (Pozo-Bayón et al., 2009; Coelho et al., 2011).

Figure 3: Sparkling wine pouring

The quality of sparkling wine is visually assessed by its colour, bubble behaviour, appearance (bead) and foam persistence (mousse) (Liger-Belair, 2013). However, as discussed by a number of authors, these parameters are extremely variable and are affected by pouring, reception vessel shape and type as well as temperature (Cilindre et al., 2010; Liger-Belair et al., 2012; Liger-Belair et al., 2013). Robotics and chemometrics allows us to control and monitor these parameters, and thus repeatedly measure sparkling wine for quality assessment and to correlate it with traditional measures of quality. A robotic bottle pourer has been developed to standardise time and wine volume of pouring into a standardised vessel. Images are collected automatically with a digital camera attached to the pourer and transferred to a computer. These images are then evaluated by image analysis algorithms, which convey the information into bubble size and speed, foamability (ability of the wine to produce foam), foam persistence and stability, and collar stability.


Figure 4: Pourer in action in parallel to a sensory analysis at Moet Chandon, Yarra Valley, VIC – Australia.

As a result, this robotic pourer and image analysis algorithms, which simultaneously quantify both bubble’s individual behaviour and collectively as part of the foam, allows the development of a reproducible, easy and inexpensive method to measure sparkling wine quality. Results from this novel technology have been compared to chemometrics and sensory panel data using multivariate data analysis.

The use of multicopters for vineyard monitoring

Posted: November 20, 2013 by vineyardofthefuture in News, Projects, Research Grant

By Sigfredo Fuentes


Figure: Octocopter from the VoF – Chile carrying an infrared thermal camera, visible camera and multispectral camera.

The MSLE with the Department of Mechanical Engineering from The University of Melbourne are developing customised unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the form of multicopters. The main aim of this project is to develop continuous remote monitoring systems to assess spatial and temporal variability of plant growth and water status, combined with a decision-making tool based on processed GIS maps (GIS-DMT). These tools will enable grapegrowers to apply efficient management strategies to maximise genetic cultivar potentials. Currently available methods to assess plant vigour and water status rely on expensive portable or fixed location instrumentation making the assessment of spatial and temporal variability of these parameters within a grapevine field difficult. Spatial variability can be obtained from airborne sensors and satellite imagery, which can be cost prohibitive and also have operational complexity in the information handling and data interpretation. Satellites also have a spatial resolution problem and long revisiting periods (low temporal resolution). Advances in miniaturised remote sensing technology (visual, infrared thermography and multispectral cameras) allow mounting them on UAVs and UTVs to assess plant vigour and water status using visible, multispectral and infrared thermal images. These systems are of high temporal and spatial resolution, which can be combined with GIS-DMT for rapid automated data analysis and reporting. The expected outcome would be management GIS maps of grapevine fields accessible to grapegrowers through a web page and specialised smartphone/tablet PC App. This integrated tool will offer competitive advantages to the Australian wine industry at a reduced cost compared to other available technologies.

The use of Dogs in Viticulture / Oenology

Posted: November 19, 2013 by vineyardofthefuture in News, Projects, Research Grant

By Sonja Needs and Sigfredo Fuentes (The University of Melbourne)


Dog in the picture: Luther, trained by Sonja Needs.

The use of dogs for detection is nothing new. Dogs are used in a range of different detection endeavours including detecting drugs, explosives, ores and minerals, insect pests and cancer to name a few (Yinon, 1999; Furton and Myers, 2001; Bhadra, 2011). A dog’s olfactory cortex is 40 times larger than a humans and enables them to detect concentrations nearly 100 million times lower than humans. Dogs are able to recall isolated scents and can “store” scent in a nasal pocket created by a bony subethmoidal shelf. This nasal pocket permits odour molecules that are unrecognizable in a single sniff to accumulate and interact with olfactory receptors.

Early detection of pests and diseases in grapevines is vital to enable more effective control or eradication before symptoms occur or disease spreads. This project aims to train dogs to seek out and indicate the presence of three target odours; Brettanomyces, Eutypa lata and Phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae). Determining firstly the ability of the dogs to detect the odour and secondly to assess reliability and thresholds for detection of that target odour. Six dogs of various breeds are currently being used for this project. Once trained, a dog can be switched from one scent to another relatively quickly. There are a large number of possibilities for use in the winery and vineyard. A properly trained dog can be more reliable than many current forms of detection, however one of the main reasons for this project is to ascertain the presence of odours for the potential for use of an electronic nose & chemosensors.

Funding to design and construct a new Octocopter has been granted by the Melbourne School of Land and Environment to Dr Sigfredo Fuentes (Funding: AUD$ 60K). Part of this funding (AUD$ 20K) will be used to construct a customised Octocopter for plant water status and growth monitoring using infrared, multispectral and stereoscopic visible cameras.


The rest of the funding will be used to buy a Microphazir NIR spectrometer for grapevines, grape and wine research at MSLE:


First international VoF project won in 2013

Posted: August 14, 2013 by vineyardofthefuture in About the project, News, Projects, Research Grant

The Vineyard of the Future (VoF) initiative has won the first project presented in Chile (FONDEF – IDEAS). The project is entitled:

“Development of a mobile system to generate thermal maps from crops to optimise irrigation scheduling”

mobil map

University of Talca (Chile): Dr Carlos Poblete and Dr Claudio Balbontin
University of Melbourne (Australia): Dr Sigfredo Fuentes
University of La Rioja (Spain): Prof. Javier Tardaguila
General objective: 
To develop an integrated device to obtain thermal maps using a mobile system that will capture spatial variability of water status within crops
Specific objectives:
  • To integrate infrared thermal sensors, GPS technology and automated data collection on board a terrestrial mobile system
  • To conduct field work in vineyards to acquire thermal data, plant water potential, soil water content and gas exchange data
  • To generate thermal maps showing the spatial distribution of temperatures within the field and associated plant water stress indices estimated using established algorithms
  • To develop an on-line SIG system for growers to visualise and interpret thermal maps to manage irrigation scheduling more efficiently
Funding: 2013-2017.
Total Funding: AUD$400K

Link to full article: Fuentes et al-MayJune13WVJ



Picture: Octocopter from VOF – Chile

Communication paper published at the Wine and Viticulture Journal (November – December 2012 issue).

Link to paper: Fuentes-NovDec12WVJ


This post describes the development of a 2D and 3D soil wetting and nutrient pattern tool that will be part of The Vineyard of The Future project.

This figure shows the wetting patterns obtained using the tool that interpolates soil moisture data within the root-zone. Figures from top left to right show a five-hour irrigation even on a sandy-loam soil before the irrigation, and consecutively after each hour of the irrigation event. The black parabolic line corresponds to the results obtained from numerical models (using WetUp, CSIRO) for the soil and irrigation specific conditions of the experiment.

A video showing a demo of a real time soil wetting pattern dynamics in an irrigation event can be seen here:

Since this tool can interpolate different data values, a fertigation event can also been visualised. This animation corresponds ta a five-hour fertigation event on a sandy-loam soil planted with 5-years-old Shiraz grapevines. Blue colours correspond to more salinity levels (nutrients) and red/yellow colours with less salinity levels. Note that most of the fertiliser added is extracted from the first 30 cm of depth, which correspond to the location of fine roots (more permeable to nutrients).

This tool will be commercially available soon through Sentek Pty. Ltd. (

Our group is currently working in the creation of a 3D wetting and nutrient pattern tool to visualise dynamics of water and nutrients in a defined soil volume.