Visual inspection is the most common way of yield estimation. Winegrowers assess the amount of leaves and fruit on the vine and use their experience to manage the canopy, for example, defoliating the canopy, removing fruit or pruning. This technique is extremely accurate but it is unfeasible when applied in large areas. Hence, winegrowers visually inspects a small area and make estimates which will be used to decide the needed intervention. This procedure results in non-optimised yield and low quality wines as grapes of different ripeness state are blended.
Precision Viticulture aims at reducing the dependence on visual inspections by integrating hardware and software tools to help crop management. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are commonly used to capture data of temperature, soil moisture, leaf wetness, solar radiation or air humidity in the surrounding area of the vine.
Satellites can also be used but are unaffordable for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Associations. A cheaper alternative is to install various set of sensors throughout the vineyard to perform measurements and all data are transmitted wirelessly to the winegrower.
Robotics technology is being introduced into the agricultural market, but most are still under development. Special interest has arisen robots for harvesting or pruning automatically and for weed management.
However, none of these robots is focused on the monitoring of relevant features which would lead to an increase of yield and quality of the production.