Partnership aims to drive autonomous vineyard innovation - Fruit & Vine

Partnership aims to drive autonomous vineyard innovation

Following Kubota Corporation’s investment in Chouette in November 2022, the two businesses are to further strengthen their partnership to develop joint solutions for vineyard automation.

Kubota tractor in vineyard on autonomous machinery viticulture article

With a focus on advanced equipment and artificial intelligence (AI), Kubota and Chouette aim to support wine producers to overcome some of the current challenges facing the sector, which include labour shortages and issues related to sustainable development.

Chouette, a French-based start-up specialising in precision vineyard management technology, uses advanced sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse images captured by cameras to detect diseases, tree vigour and specific tree problems, such as frost damage or water stress. Based on data analysis, Chouette’s algorithms can create variable rate application maps and spray volume advice for chemical applications or other necessary treatment.

Kubota is accelerating open innovation through its established Innovation Centers across the world. Innovation Center Europe’s focus is to build new business innovations in orchard and vineyard production through emerging technologies such as digitalisation, AI, robotics and autonomous equipment, and advanced sensor technologies.

Since its initial investment, Kubota has been verifying Chouette’s technology with partners, plus growers in Italy and France, and now aims for commercialisation. Both organisations are working together to demonstrate precision farming solutions for vineyards through the Kubota dealership network. 

The European Union is the world’s largest wine producer, comprising some 2.5 million wine growers and 3.2 million hectares of vineyards. As the environment changes and the supply of labour diminishes, attention turns to managing vine health and grape yield, which are becoming increasingly costly, challenging and time consuming to execute.

“Through this partnership we aim to provide effective solutions for vineyard customers, for disease intensity detection and the adoption of sustainable farming practices,” said Hervé Gérard-Biard, vice president of business development at Kubota Holdings Europe. “Our approach combines embedded, tractor mounted sensors, mapping and AI-based vine analysis, bringing precise vine care and prescriptive vine treatment possibilities to EU wine producers.”

Embedded sensing enables mapping, disease diagnosis and prescriptive treatment throughout the whole season. And Kubota’s vision for healthy vineyards includes a number of areas of application to be developed in the future, for example vigour mapping and yield prediction.

“Innovation in precision agriculture tools is essential for vineyards as it enhances productivity, optimises resource usage, and improves grape quality,” said Charles Nespoulous, co-founder and chief executive officer of Chouette. “With our intelligent solutions working with Kubota’s tractors and machinery, we look forward to providing sustainable wine production solutions, and cost savings, in vineyard operations.”

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