ANR Employees
University of California
ANR Employees

2014 New Call for Positions

2014 URS Call for Positions

This proposal has been formally submitted for the 2014 cycle.

Position Details

121 Viticulture Automation and Mechanization Specialist

Proposed Location/Housing

Kearney Agriculture Research and Extension Center. Appointments in the departments of Viticulture and Enology and Biological and Agricultural Engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis

Proposed Area of Coverage

California - statewide with emphasis in San Joaquin valley and other grape growing regions


Associated Documents



The Napa Valley Grapegrowers, representing over 680 Napa County vineyard owners, vineyard managers, and associated businesses, strongly supports the incorporation of this position (“Cooperative Extension Specialist in Viticulture/Automation and Mechanization”) into the Cooperative Extension program.

Farm Advisors in California represent a critical link between current research and the latest technological advances - and the industry that uses and needs the information. In the viticultural industry, there is a growing need for information about mechanization and the implementation of precision viticulture activities, as labor costs and availability are of growing concerns.

Growers are highly interested in understanding how to optimize production through mechanization with practices such as:
• site evaluation with electromagnetic probes
• satellite and ground-based spectral sensing (leading to estimates of the capacity of a given site and appropriate spacing, trellis and rootstock choices)
• water use sensors and automated irrigation
• nutrient status of the site and vines leading to block specific fertilization
• mechanized optimization of vineyard canopies (leafing, suckering, hedging)
• assessments of fruit quality and yields
• optical sorting of fruit prior to entering the winery
• harvesters
• pruning activities from pre-pruning to automated pruning
The NVG is also strongly supportive of any progress in expanding UCD’s research and extension efforts. This position would fill a large gap in the Department’s research efforts. It is our hope that the position will be opened and filled, in order to support a healthy winegrape industry that contributes to California’s economy and overall way of life.
Posted May 27, 2014 10:12 AM by Napa Valley Grapegrowers
American Vineyard Foundation (Support for Viticulture & Mechanization Specialist)

To address rising grape and wine industry needs relating to labor shortages and increasing costs associated with vineyard labor activities, the American Vineyard Foundation strongly supports staffing a Viticulture Automation and Mechanization Specialist under the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. Critical to the industry is the need to reduce vineyard labor costs through mechanization and implementation of precision viticulture farming techniques. This position is designed to address these needs concentrating on optimizing production through developments and improvements in a wide range of practices that include enhanced site evaluation and water use management as well as better defining fertilization requirements. Besides advancements in these and numerous other vineyard activities, this position would fill a gap in the important effort to provide extension and outreach services to the industry.
Posted May 27, 2014 3:38 PM by Scott Deitrick
Research in the field of viticulture mechanization and automation is very valuable since it will contribute to the profitability and competitiveness of the California table grape industry and other grape and wine industries in the United States. The United States is the seventh largest producer of table grapes in the world with California supplying approximately 99 percent of the U.S. production. About 41 percent of the California table grapes are exported. In the 2013 season, the total table grape crop value was over $1.7 billion and the total volume was 1,002,106 metric tons.

The California table grape industry has identified mechanization and automation as key components for future research work with goals to improve vineyard productivity, fruit quality, and profitability through an innovative, science-driven, and feasible precision viticulture. Unlike winegrape production, most table grape canopy and crop operations, such as canopy management, cluster thinning and harvesting, are presently performed manually, and labor is becoming less available and more expensive. Research in the field of vineyard mechanization and sensing technologies, such as canopy and crop sensing, water use sensing and automated irrigation; and assessing nutrient status of the site and vines is considered essential for modern agriculture.

The California Table Grape Commission supports creation of the new Cooperative Extension Specialist - in Viticulture/Automation and Mechanization position as it believes that research in mechanization and automation will help take modern table grape growing to the next level.
Posted Jun 4, 2014 9:47 AM by Franka Gabler, Viticulture Research Director, California Table Grape Commission
[This comment was deleted]
Posted Jul 15, 2014 3:16 PM by [Deleted]
Having done research and given talks on this subject at winegrape meetings, I can say that there is a need to increase mechanization - especially in the table grape industries. The raisin industry has demonstrated that major changes in attitude are possible. This has been very slow in the winegrape industry which has shown resistance in the past. Hopefully this position can set up projects that clearly demonstrate that the industry can change - much like the Australians did several years ago.
Posted Jul 15, 2014 3:17 PM by Maxwell Norton

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