Computer vision of vineyards could help reduce labour costs and increase yield for winemakers a Tasmanian startup says.
Bitwise Agronomy is an agricultural technology startup, run by the owners of Jinglers Creek Vineyard, which focuses on using artificial intelIigence to help winemakers make correct decisions in relation to their vines.
Chief executive Fiona Turner described their product as 'Google street view' for horticulture.
They use affordable cameras, such as GoPros, attached to the farm equipment to record plants and then use a computer vision algorithm to analyse the footage.
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Through the analysis they are able to help vineyard managers and agronomists make correct decisions in relation to their crop.
Ms Turner said the technology could help drive down labour costs.
"In a vineyard we put wires up to keep the foliage nice and uniform so all the sprays can get onto the grapes," she said.
"If you do that at the wrong time all the canes and shoots fall out so you have to rework that and do that again."
"So if you can have something that can show you it is the right time to do it over a large area then you can do it at the right time and only do it once saving time and money."
She said the software also had the potential to help growers increase yield.
"We are also doing things in terms of knowing when to spray the right sprays, counting bunches of grapes to start to look at predicting yield [and] understanding whether [to] prune," Ms Turner said.
"When you prune you put a cane down on the wire, if you don't get a percentage of coverage you are going to reduce your yield.
"One particular client lost $3.6 million because the pruning wasn't done right."
The company is hoping to release the first version of their viewer later this month which would allow people to freely upload and view their imagery.
Ms Turner said it was easy for clients to implement their technology.
"All they have got to do is put a camera on their existing machinery or whatever they use to cruise around the vineyard and then upload it," she said.
"We work with vineyards at the beginning of their journey and show them how to set it up."
They will be a part of a government trade mission to America where Ms Turner said they will be having meetings with potential clients.
"It is really great that they have selected startups to go on this trade mission," she said.
She said America was a key market for the business due to the scale of their vineyards compared to Tasmania.
The company is looking to raise its first round of capital and expand into two similar markets: table grapes and berries.
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