Management of vineyards, wineries going smart
Su Wenping monitors soil temperature, humidity and irrigation data for his vineyard on mobile app. By pressing a button on the app, he can have the 20-hectare vineyard irrigated precisely.
Such modern irrigation contrasts with the days in the past when farmers had to manually turn on the water valves for irrigation, which not only demanded a larger labor force but also wasted water.
"We used to need up to eight employees to manage the vineyard, but now we only need two," said Su, 60, adding that the smart software has helped reduce water usage by 20 percent through precision irrigation.
Su is the vineyard plantation manager from Lilan Winery in Yongning County in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
His winery is one of some 200 wineries located at the eastern foothills of Helan Mountain in Ningxia. With its prolonged sunshine and cool, dry climate contributing positively to grape farming, the region has become a rising star on the world wine map, with local wines winning many top international awards. The plantation area of wine grapes has reached 38,867 hectares in Ningxia.
With its wine industry seeing a momentum of development, Ningxia is pushing its vineyards and wineries to adopt various smart digital technologies, delivering high-quality wine with less labor force and more efficiency.
On another plot of vineyard, an insect control facility is installed. Through a micropower network in the vineyard, farmers can kill insects with a photo-electric effect system and also collect information on insect invasions as the facility is equipped with an image acquisition device.
"The information and statistics collected through the system are analyzed to help farmers better decide on pesticide spray quotas and better fight the insects," said Li Xuyang, deputy general manager of Yongning power supply company in the city of Yinchuan, which is affiliated to the State Grid. The company has supported establishing the vineyard as a smart farming base.
At the winery of Xige Estate in the city of Qingtongxia, the wine brewery is also digitalized through an app enabling brewers to remotely control each fermentation period.
Wang Fei, an assistant brewer at the winery, said different types of wine need different fermentation temperatures, and the smart system not only helps the brewers remotely monitor and adjust the temperatures in real time, but also improves the winemaking efficiency.
"We now only need 10 workers to manage the 215 fermentation tanks," said Wang, adding that the annual wine production volume of the winery has reached 6 million bottles.
Zhang Junxiang, a professor at Ningxia University, said promoting smart vineyard and winery management is an inevitable choice for the future.
"Only in this way can we further improve the efficiency, reduce costs, and make Ningxia's high-quality wine more competitive in the international market," said Zhang.