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Verizon uses IoT to help California vineyards

Steve Rogerson
September 15, 2016

With changing climate conditions, wide variations in soil conditions and unique water demands for each grape varietal, when it comes to grape growing, irrigation can be a complex, cumbersome and labour-intensive process – a process with which technology has not traditionally kept pace. That’s why three vineyard growers in California’s wine country have partnered with Verizon to help optimise their farming processes at every growth stage of their crop and drive industry standards with IoT-enabled technology.
Verizon has teamed up with ITK, one of the leading crop modelling companies in the world, to provide Delicato Family Vineyards, Scheid Vineyards and Renteria Vineyard Management with an automated system that delivers intelligence to help these growers adopt improved planning, irrigation management and sustainability programmes in an effort to continue to lead the way in sustainable growing practices.
Spanning thousands of acres across Monterey County and Napa Valley, each vineyard is using the ITK data analytics engine, which is the underlying component of Verizon’s Ag Tech system. Ag Tech also includes a Verizon-provided weather station, a secure LTE gateway and flow meters combined with the ThingSpace platform, and a dashboard that provides a single pane of glass so growers have a holistic view of their environment.
ITK’s analytics engine is instrumental in helping growers optimise vine stress management at every growth stage of the plant.
“As an irrigation tool, it is not only economical and scalable, it gives growers an integrated view of the vines’ water needs to improve quality and drive sustainability,” said Gregory Brun, senior viticulturist at Delicato Family Vineyards. “It’s one of the most rational approaches based on water constraint evaluation.”
According to Verizon’s IoT experts, existing technology is too expensive, unreliable and not tailored to the unique requirements of grapevines.
“As a result of working closely with many expert vineyard growers in the adoption of Verizon Ag Tech, we are seeing a reduction in applied water irrigation which has helped growers reduce operating costs, lower risk and drive profitability,” said Mark Bartolomeo, vice president at Verizon. “Overall, the potential upside is significant.”
Seeking to add a suite of smart city products enabled by its ThingSpace IoT platform to help communities increase economic development, drive citizen engagement and enable sustainability, Verizon has signed an agreement to purchase Sensity Systems, a private company based in Sunnyvale, California. Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. The acquisition is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close towards the end of this year.