“What the Tech?!” with GAIA

Being in the #winetech game with Cellr’s smart packaging solutions and platform, it’s safe to say the team at Cellr love talking innovation in the wine industry- and we think you will too. In this installment of “What the Tech?!” we got chatting with Andy Clarke who is CEO of the company bringing AI to Agriculture and crop monitoring, GAIA

My goal is to help winegrowers understand how they can use technology to understand better where their own production limitations and opportunities truly lie. 

Tell us about you and your company?

Having grown up on a dairy farm near Mount Gambier, agriculture has always been in my blood. After studying viticulture I have worked across South Australia and Victoria for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles encompassing both wine growing and grower services.  I guess I have a curious mindset, and seek to understand what is possible and available. Ash Keegan once spoke to me of pushing the boundaries in any growing system, for example, water, fertiliser, or pruning method to understand what the limits are in your operation. This helps define what is possible, vs what is a self-limiting thought process and can help manage your stress and expectations when conditions are against you. In 2015 I was fortunate to be awarded a Nuffield Scholarship, which exposed me to a multitude of different ag industries, researchers and practitioners around the world. The 16 weeks spent travelling and learning global agriculture is something that has forever shifted the way I view wine production and agriculture in Australia. There are many amazing examples of people using technology in their everyday business to run efficient, successful and connected operations. My goal is to help winegrowers understand how they can use technology to understand better where their own production limitations and opportunities truly lie. 

In 2018 GAIA was developed by Consilium Technology to identify and map all the vineyards on the Australian continent. In Feb 2020 I assumed the role of CEO as GAIA Innovations became a company in its own right. Data is becoming increasingly important in agriculture and GAIA is using Artificial Intelligence to help highlight the opportunities for growers in their own fields from imagery. Our team at GAIA contains some incredibly talented data scientists and software engineers who are working hard to make the decision making process easier for growers.

What is the winetech?

GAIA is AI for Agriculture and utilises machine learning and high-resolution satellite imagery to identify, measure, and monitor vineyards and other perennial cropping systems. It was the first of its kind to locate and map vineyard boundaries and their individual vine rows on a continental scale, providing a single source of truth for fruit origin and biosecurity. The Web App also allows growers to access NDVI imagery to monitor the condition of their vineyards during the growing season. The platform has been designed to be as intuitive as possible, making it accessible for those who are not super tech-savvy. We want everyone to be able to easily create a digital farm map of their farm at the very least. Having the ability to copy your own vineyard locations from the Wine Australia national scan to your own organisation on the platform is the easiest start to building digital records.

Where is it used?

GAIA is currently used by Wine Australia, as well as Winemakers and Grape Growers across Australia, with customers in Europe also. The crop identification output provides accurate market insights for industry, while the web app can be used by growers and winemakers alike for crop monitoring.  As the platform is web-based, it can be accessed both from the office PC or in the field on a smartphone. When businesses operate across multiple states, regions, and countries the ability to have some visibility over your vineyards is critical in operating in a remote sense.  GAIA’s global capacity makes it ideal to use in these times of COVID restrictions.

Why was it created?

GAIA was created to replace traditional manual survey methods to understand the production capacity of Australia’s wine regions.  However, GAIA provides much more than survey information.  GAIA provides detailed digital maps, imagery and analytics for horticultural crops. GAIA’s goal is to assist in the decision making of growers and winemakers and our development team is working hard to deliver analytical tools to achieve this.

Do you have a particular case study/success story you can share about a customer?

Check out https://gaia.ag/case-studies/

The De Bortoli wines case study is an excellent example of how GAIA can help identify an issue and then track the outcomes in subsequent years. The 2018 imagery highlighted areas of improvement in the way irrigation was applied to their vineyards. Water was being overapplied to the centre of the block, with underwatering occurring at the edges.  In a season when water was valued at in excess of $700/ML, any excessive use of water was a burden on profitability. Visibility of this led to capital investment in the irrigation system and changes to management practices. The subsequent season saw less water used with less stress at the edges of the block.

GAIA’s success can be measured on a number of fronts. It is now in its 3rd year of delivering the national scan for Wine Australia and providing areas and geolocations for each vineyard on the continent. 

You can get in touch with GAIA via their website, and follow their story on LinkedIn.

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