Pernod Ricard Winemaker’s New Zealand is one of the country’s leading wine companies, and part of the Pernod Ricard Group – the world’s second-largest wine, spirits, and champagne-style company, managing an unrivaled portfolio of over 240 premium brands and iconic New Zealand wines, including Church Road and Brancott Estate.
Being a leading company in the wine industry doesn’t happen without hard work, attention to detail, and the right equipment to ensure their crops are the best they can be. Pernod Ricard Winemakers strive to reduce environmental impacts and over time have an ambition to reduce and target pesticide application, in part using technology to support precision viticulture, enabling application only at the right moment, in the right place.
Since 2020, Pernod Ricard Winemakers has partnered with BA Pumps & Sprayers to trial innovative technology In New Zealand, implementing a BA canopy sprayer with Smart Apply LiDAR control technology, the first to do so in New Zealand.
The BA Smart Sprayer applies the easy-to-use Smart-Apply USDA-based LiDAR sensor technology to sense and detect the canopy and assess foliage density, before adjusting each spray nozzle to ensure it only applies pesticides where required. The result is reduced drift, reduced chemical use, and less waste than conventional sprayers.
Transformation Manager for Viticulture, David Allen, has been leading the project at Pernod Ricard Winemakers. Having been with the company for 18 years David has a long history with grape growing. David said: “The role of the Transformation Team is to explore the adoption and integration of new technology which will help us achieve our Vineyard of the Future vision.”
We are always looking at ways we can reduce our impact and nurture our terroirs. The LiDAR-based control from Smart-Apply fits well with our strategic goals so we were keen to investigate more and continue our trials of the technology.”
With over 2,000 hectares of vineyard in New Zealand, Pernod Ricard Winemakers were the first in the country to trial the technology, requiring a lot of collaboration, and now operate three sprayers with the Smart-Apply system to help manage the risk of disease. David said: “We were excited for it to arrive on site and see what it could do compared to the other sprayers we had. We ran comprehensive comparison trials over the past two growing seasons to understand how the Smart Apply system compares to our existing sprayers. “Over the Vintage 2023 season, in the field tests using the three-row sprayer showed an impressive +30% reduction in chemical usage compared to conventional sprayers. Other impressive benefits included a reduction in spray drift,” added David.
The introduction of technology can help viticulturists operate more efficiently, while also appealing to new generations of talent by embracing innovation. “With the Smart Apply system, it’s easy to set up and operate. The system controls the entire spraying function including turning on and off at the start and end of rows simplifying operations making it accessible for all to use.”
Since the project began BA and Pernod Ricard Winemakers have worked closely to integrate feedback and learnings from the trials to create a sprayer that is suitable for New Zealand vineyards.
“The support from BA has been great and it has very much been a joint project the whole way. As well as the technology side we’ve been really impressed with BAs engineering, especially for the three-row sprayer which needs a lot more modification and setting up than a two-row. We also liked the attention to detail. Their commitment to health and safety features for operators has been outstanding. For example, the sensors can be lowered for cleaning rather than having to climb up to reach them.” David said.
“We are very pleased with the results and have ordered three more Smart Apply systems for the Vintage 2024 season. Our testing will continue to monitor the performance of the sprayers throughout their life so we can get a fuller picture of their effectiveness.” He continued.
You can see the Smart Sprayer in action at the BA Tech Day taking place at Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Blenheim, New Zealand, on 9th November 2023. Click here to find out more.