2014 New Call for Positions
2014 URS Call for Positions
121 Viticulture Automation and Mechanization Specialist
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
- Viticulture Automation and Mechanization Specialist (docx), uploaded 05/14/2014 by Mary Delany
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
• 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.
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.
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.