The Situation Motivates
Although mechanization has lowered management costs and precision viticulture is growing, vine selection practices still require time-consuming manual operations. Grape vine is a distinctive crop of the Mediterranean Basin. In Italy, viticulture has a relevant economic impact in all regions, and the wine industry ranks first in the agro-food chain with over 5.5 billion euro of export in 2017. Despite widespread Vertical Shoot Positioning systems recently demonstrating positive features in several wine districts, modern vineyards still require expensive manual operations for vine selection. Winter pruning impacts for the 20-35% of the yearly labor demand that can be lowered by introducing mechanical operations when spur-pruning is adopted. However selective manual follow-up is still required and cannot be performed in the absence of direct human cognition. Robots can represent a revolution upscaling in forthcoming innovative farming systems providing automated solutions combining intelligent robot vision and manipulation. Despite agricultural solutions have been developed in recent years, robotics in viticulture is still in its infancy, and only a few prototypes have been described for performing winter spur-pruning; at present engineering processes seem to be ongoing whilst interactions with grapevine physiology were never assessed.
This project, namely VINUM-ROBOT (2018-2023) tackles the emerging challenge of the dramatic shortage in skilled labor and lower grape price using robotic solutions. The project is researching and developing innovative robotic technologies for grapevine spur-pruning automation.
The information displayed on this page can be also found from the "VINUM" project official website.