A microelectrical system that could help winemakers avoid drought and botrytis is to be showcased in Australia.

The MEMS (microelectrical mechanical system) uses a microchip to measure the climate around the vines including wind speed and direction, temperature, light, humidity, soil moisture and dampness of the leaves. It then sends this data to a central computer either directly or on a relay via another chip.

The system is entirely wireless. The 4mm square device was developed by the Australian Cooperative Research Centre and mobile telephone company Motorola. It will be on display at the Converging Technologies in Agriculture and the Environment conference in August.

The developers of MEMS hope that this will avoid drought and botrytis problems by giving winegrowers up-to-date warnings of potential hot spots, allowing them to irrigate or take protective measures as necessary. The soil moisture sensor in particular is expected to be crucial in reducing water wastage. The system is also relatively cheap.

‘While other climate sensors are available, they cost thousands of dollars, which puts them out of reach of the typical grower. Our sensors will cost only a fraction of that, making irrigation scheduling a reality for the wider farming community,’ Clive Davenport, head of CRC microTechnology told Electronics News.

Written by Oliver Styles