Vineyard Management – A Roundtable Discussion

Vineyard managers from Rhode Island, California, and Washington discuss how they use data loggers and weather stations to help run successful vineyards.

Vineyard Management – A Roundtable Discussion

Onset recently assembled a roundtable to discuss the current role data loggers and weather stations play in  vineyard management. Roundtable participants included: Paul Nunes of Newport Vineyards, located in Newport, Rhode Island; Gerald Bybee of Bybee Vineyards, located in Sebastopol, California; and Virginie Bourgue of Southwind, located in Walla Walla, Washington.


What role do data loggers and weather stations play in vineyard management?

Gerald: We used the HOBOnodeTM wireless air temperature sensors to monitor frost conditions in the vineyards this past spring.  The system provided alarm notifications directly to my computer. When temperatures started to drop to approximately 36°F, an audible alarm would go off on my computer and the data helped me gauge whether or not I needed to turn on the frost protection system. 

Since we set the sensors to sample every couple of minutes, I was able to see how fast the temperature was dropping -- as it was happening -- and project when critical temperatures would be reached.

Paul:  I use a HOBO® U30-GSM to look at the leaf wetness of my grape vines.  Since grape vines are susceptible to mildew and disease, managing surface wetness is critical.  I also depend highly on the rain gauges to benchmark and ensure that the anti-fungus spray we use on the vines is effective. The data tells us how many hours it takes for the anti-fungal spray to be absorbed prior to a rain event. 

After the plants have been protected, it is crucial to know the volume of water that occurred during a rain event and how much of the residual spray is left to protect the plants.  We also use the data from the soil moisture sensors to help manage our irrigation schedule.

Virginie:  We use HOBO Pendant loggers to evaluate the best location to plant our vines.  The data helps us track temperature conditions in various locations throughout our property, and that information will help us design and layout our vineyard blocks.  Right now, we are monitoring low-lying areas where we think there is a greater risk of frost.


Do you have any particular challenges with respect to collecting and retrieving data?

Paul: I don’t have any challenges since we are using a web-based system. 

Virginie:  We use a laptop to collect the data from 10 different loggers throughout the property.   Initially, going out in the field to collect the data was time consuming.  But now that we have a system in place, downloading the data goes quickly. 

Gerald:  The HOBOnode wireless system makes it easy to view my data directly from my computer.


How do you work with the data?

Gerald:  I don’t export my data, although that may be something I will do in the future. I look at the data directly within the system’s accompanying HOBOnode Utility Viewer software.

Paul:  I view the data on the web using HOBOlink®.  One feature that I find useful is the ability to quickly and easily change sampling rates right from my HOBOlink account.

 Virginie:  We view the data from HOBOware and then export it into Excel.  The data helps us define areas where air movement would create a higher potential for frost conditions. 


Do your monitoring needs typically include trend logging, real-time data, or both?

Virginie:  Right now, we are primarily looking at trending data.  During the growing season, we will be calculating the growing degree days to find the maximum temperature for the day.   We will use that data to compare temperature conditions at different monitoring sites throughout our property.

 Paul: I do both.  I view real-time data as well as weekly and monthly rainfall amounts.  With the data, I can see a trend which gives me some indication of when I need to spray the plants again.  It’s important for me to view how much rain has occurred since we last sprayed. 

I can also view an infection period.  If I suspect that I have a disease growing on my plants, the data helps me confirm my suspicions.

 Gerald: I primarily look at real-time data; however, I may view “trending data” when I want to see what the average temperature is during the course of the week or look at overnight trends for comparison.


What are the most important product features you look for in a data logger or weather station?

Virginie:  We needed a way to measure temperature, and we chose data loggers instead of a weather station because we wanted the flexibility of deploying loggers in several locations to get temperature readings throughout the property. 

I need the flexibility of getting temperature data from multiple locations. I can put the loggers wherever I think there may be a potential risk for frost.  Taking the time to collect and analyze the data will help us determine the best design for our vineyard.

 Paul:  I looked for a system that is easy to use and self sustaining.  Our current system runs off of solar power and having a web-based system makes it easy to access my data.  I was recently on vacation, and was able to view the data from my laptop to determine if we had to spray the plants.  I had the data at my fingertips and that was definitely good to have remote access to the information to make important decisions.

Gerald:  I looked at several different systems and found the HOBOnode wireless system to be the most versatile, simple, and cost efficient for my immediate and future needs. For me, making sure that I can protect our vines from frost conditions was the most important feature that I looked for in a data logging system. The fact that it can be easily expanded with other sensors and nodes was icing on the cake.