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Positioned at 380 meters above sea level with the Šentilj hills on one side and the Pesnica valley on the other side, House of Wine Doppler is a fine example of a Slovenian wine producer. Winery is part of the Styrian winegrowing region, which reputation extends beyond the borders of Slovenia. The ownership and running of the winery has been in the safe hands of two recent generations of daughters who are driving the brand positively forward. Previously the vineyard was established by Benedictine monks from Admont in Austria in 1815 until 1938 the beautiful 38-hectare estate was purchased in 1938 by Ivan Doppler (the grandfather of the current owner, Mihaela), who himself came from a long line of winemakers. Ivan was a World War II survivor, having also endured Dachau concentration camp, and lived to the age of 93.
A new winery, cellars, and production facility was opened here in 2010, combining modern technology with centuries-old winery traditions, set amongst the pristine forested hills north of Maribor looks something like a futuristic military outpost or cinematic villain’s lair – the completely computerized Doppler complex even includes access via a fingerprint scanner.
Their vineyards can be found in two separate locations; in lower Počehova and in Kozjak above Pesnica, where they built one of the most technologically modern wine cellars in 2010. The specialty of this farm is the fact that it has been led exclusively by women for two generations. At the moment, the farm is led by the family: mother Mihaela, and her three daughters, Lina, Lana, and Lena. Mostly white varieties are planted in their vineyards – welschriesling, rhine riesling, sauvignon, green sylvaner, muscat ottonel, traminer, furmint, and chardonnay for sparkling wine. They also grow two red varieties, blue franconian and zweigelt, which are used for production of rosé, rosé sparkling wines, and a red cuvée, Doppler Efekt.
TURNING TO SMART SENSOR TECHNOLOGY
Recently the wineyard reoriented to organic winemaking which aims to produce wines that reflect the natural flavors of the grapes and the unique characteristics of the vineyard while minimizing the impact on the environment. By choosing organic wines, consumers can support sustainable agriculture and enjoy products made with a focus on ecological responsibility.
At the same time, a lot is being invested into becoming one of Slovenia’s most digitized wineries. With computerized facilities and modern machinery, the farm has taken a big step towards a technologically advanced farm, and about only thing missing would be smart sensors to control and manage the different parameters that play effect in growing healthy vines.
Smart sensors offer numerous benefits to wineyards. When implemented in a wineyard, smart sensors provide valuable data and insights that help optimize vineyard management, enhance grape quality, and improve overall productivity. Here are just a few key advantages of using smart sensors in a wineyard:
- Climate Monitoring: Smart sensors can monitor and record real-time weather conditions within the wineyard. They measure parameters such as temperature, humidity, sunlight exposure, and rainfall. This data allows vineyard managers to make informed decisions about irrigation, disease prevention, and harvesting, ensuring the ideal conditions for grape growth.
- Soil Analysis: Smart sensors can measure soil moisture levels, nutrient content, and pH levels. This information helps vineyard owners and farmers to precisely manage irrigation and fertilization, preventing overwatering or nutrient deficiencies. By optimizing soil conditions, smart sensors contribute to healthier vines and higher grape quality.
- Water Management: Water is a vital resource in wine production, and smart sensors play a crucial role in efficient water management. By continuously monitoring soil moisture and weather conditions, these sensors provide insights into when and how much water should be applied. This helps minimize water waste, reduce costs, and maintain optimal soil moisture levels for grape growth.
- Disease and Pest Detection: Early detection of diseases and pests is essential for vineyard management. Smart sensors can detect signs of diseases or the presence of harmful pests, such as fungi or insects. By promptly alerting vineyard managers, these sensors enable timely interventions, such as targeted pesticide applications or disease prevention measures, reducing crop loss and improving grape quality.
- Harvest Optimization: Smart sensors aid in determining the ideal time to harvest grapes. They measure sugar content (Brix level), acidity, and grape maturity indicators. By providing accurate and real-time data, these sensors help vineyard owners and winemakers make informed decisions about the optimal harvest time, resulting in grapes with the desired characteristics and flavors.
- Remote Monitoring and Control: Smart sensors can be connected to a central control system, allowing vineyard managers to remotely monitor and manage multiple aspects of the vineyard. This remote access enables real-time adjustments, reducing manual labor and improving operational efficiency. For example, irrigation systems can be controlled remotely based on the data received from soil moisture sensors.
- Data-Driven Decision Making: Smart sensors generate vast amounts of data, which can be analyzed using data analytics and machine learning techniques. By analyzing historical and real-time sensor data, vineyard managers can gain valuable insights into patterns, trends, and correlations. These insights enable data-driven decision-making for vineyard management strategies, disease prevention, resource allocation, and yield optimization.
In the Doppler case, the start off Agri bundle sensor package was enough to provide sufficient data for the winemaking management needs:
Doppler sensor deployment:
- 6 x SMC30 (Microclimate)
- 1 x SSM30 (Soil moisture)
- 1 x SRM10 (Rain bucket)
- 1 x SLW10 (Leaf wettness)
- Risk of disease
- Risk of lower yield
- High cost of plant protection products and the danger of damaging grapes by overusing plant protection products
- The microclimate state is unknown to a farmer -> wrong conditions lead to an increase in plant diseases
- Abnormal rainfall & heat waves over 30°C are becoming more common
- Wineyard management is based on subjective insights
Farmers, such as Lina, can effectively address a wide range of challenges by integrating smart sensor technology into their operations. It is essential for these devices to be affordable, precise, easy to deploy, and require minimal maintenance. As part of this research-oriented project, a network consisting of four microclimate sensors (SMC30), one soil moisture sensor (SSM30), one rain bucket sensor (SRM10), and one leaf wetness sensor (SLW10) was deployed across the Doppler winery estate to capture various environmental parameters.
These sensors collect measurements and transmit the data directly to the Senzemo Dashboard ensuring continuous availability. These platforms provide comprehensive reports and graphical representations, enabling farmers to make informed decisions regarding grape variety selection, determining appropriate plant protection measures throughout the year, and planning climate protection strategies such as implementing additional weather covers.
- 20% decrease in plant protection costs
- 500 EUR savings per season on each 1ha of farm
- Sensors have a 7-year lifetime and need basically zero maintenance
- Higher wine yield
- Increase in the reliability of alerts
- Time saved on manual inspections
- Offering real-time microclimate information, the wineyard can now be more easily managed
- Possibility to expand data zones by easy integration of more sensors
Lina Kopše, Wineyard manager
Recently the wineyard turned to organic winemaking which aims to produce wines that reflect the natural flavors of the grapes and the unique characteristics of the vineyard while minimizing the impact on the environment. By choosing organic wines, consumers can support sustainable agriculture and enjoy products made with a focus on ecological responsibility.
Doppler is different from other wineries as women are 100% in charge of running the estate. You might wonder, how that is possible, but when you talk to Lina Kopše it is clear they know their stuff very well. Lina herself is responsible for bringing smart Agri solutions to the wineyard.
Making Smart Agri work is about using the data for informed decisions. This way Lina can now decide what grapes to seed, what area needs more water, what potential diseases could jeopardize the yield, and so on.
Their most-known wine is Pheasant. The wine itself is super tasty and customers reach far across the globe, all the way to Nebraska, US.
The project is done in cooperation with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and made possible by EU funding.
TESTIMONIALS FROM KEY PEOPLE:
Argene Superina, Project Manager at Laboratory for Telecommunications on Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana – LTFE:
The University of Ljubljana takes part in the European Union project called CODECS, where we are trying to define methodologies that are measuring positive impacts that technology is bringing to agriculture.
Lina Kopše, Winery Owner:
Since our winery is in 2nd year of a 3-year reorientation into organic winemaking analyzing weather conditions, soil moisture, rainfall, and humidity play a really important role in predicting and mitigating potential risks of diseases (like downy mildew – Pseudoperonospora cubensis) and act properly. Also measuring parameters at different parts and locations around the wineyard is great for the potential planting of new wineyards.
Overall bringing smart solutions to our vineyards definitely saves some working hours and reduces spraying.
Tomaž Šuklje, Senzemo’s CEO:
On research projects, we usually take the role of technology providers. Currently, we’re involved in a number of EU projects, from Urban, Industrial, or Agricultural environments.
With our extensive IoT knowledge and research-ready hardware, we are the perfect partner for universities and municipalities, delivering the technology needed to collect accurate data, that then serves the predefined purpose of the research project at hand.
We’re all about quality. All of our manufacturing is done here in Slovenia, with quality, sustainable materials. The sensors can last up to 7 years on one set of AA batteries and have unmatched accuracy. For Agri, we also figured it’s best to have modular solutions as every farmer’s needs are different.