An award-winning leaf wetness sensor is now available to English grape growers, promising real-time information about disease and frost risks to improve on-farm decision-making.
Sencrop’s super-localised, compact and maintenance-free leaf wetness sensor has already found its way onto more than 200 vineyards across Europe, following its launch earlier this year, with growers attracted by its 24/7 monitoring capabilities, easy-to-use interface and next-generation technology.
“Unlike standard leaf wetness sensors, which measure only dew and precipitation accumulating on the leaf surface, the Leafcrop also monitors the air temperature and humidity for disease risk, and measures the quantity of water present on a leaf with the highest precision,” explains Martin Ducroquet, Sencrop’s co-founder.
“Leafcrop uses our specially developed algorithms to ‘crunch’ all these data flows, building up an accurate picture of the precise conditions within the vine canopy.”
The results, displayed through an online ‘dashboard’ available from an internet browser or through the smartphone app, help growers make more informed decisions about their crop protection activities, using the data it collects to indicate the onset of conditions that favour disease.
Leafcrop also measures wet-bulb temperature, a determining factor for the onset of frost. By scheduling alerts through the dashboard, Leafcrop warns a grower of an impending frost risk and suggests preventative action.
“With Leafcrop in use, smart to the effect that vineyard topography can have on local conditions, a grower can build a far more detailed understanding of in-crop conditions,” Martin says, “Not only does this enable more effective decision-making, it can also improve the bottom line.
“Armed with Leafcrop data, a grower might decide that a spray application is no longer needed. Conversely, data might alert them to the onset of disease before it really takes hold, enabling them to nip it in the bud before it has any serious impact on grape quality or yield.”
Winning a silver medal in the 2019 SIVAL Innovation Competition, Leafcrop is easily installed on-farm and requires no external power source, being powered by a three-year battery. The unit costs £349, with an annual subscription of £180.
It’s also compatible with Sencrop’s ‘intelligent weather web’ – a growing network of on-farm weather stations across the UK. Now numbering 300 and rising, users opt-in to share the data each station collects, building up a ‘super pool’ of weather data that’s continuously updating and growing ever more accurate in its provision of ultra-localised weather information. The system is also in operation on the continent, where more than 7,500 individual stations are able to share data.