Climate change is leading to higher temperatures in the winter months and making late frosts more likely. This causes a great amount of damage, especially for Austrian fruit and winegrowers. Is it possible to collect weather data on a smaller scale and incorporate it into forecast models in order to take more precise frost control measures?
In the innovation project “FrostStrat”, winegrowers and fruit growers have teamed up with companies from the field of sensor and software technology (Microtronics Engineering, TietoEvry) and under the scientific management of the HBLA for Viticulture and Pomology in Klosterneuburg are working on just such a solution using digital technologies. A network of digital sensors for measuring temperature, humidity and wind speed was placed directly in vineyards and orchards and the data collected was transmitted to the technology partners using the LoRaWAN radio protocol. These sensors were used to model the local temperature profiles and forecast future weather developments. The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism with funds from the European Innovation Partnership “Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability” (EIP-AGRI).
A particular challenge was the fact that temperatures in some terrain profiles often differed from one another over very small areas. This had to be taken into consideration by collecting the weather data on as small a scale as possible and by using correspondingly detailed modeling. The experts from TietoEvry worked together with the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics to develop a weather model that links the general weather situation with the collected measurements. The resulting model is checked against the real data and the system continuously learns with the help of artificial intelligence.
On the basis of the data collected and the models developed, a prognosis and early warning system was developed for the fruit and winegrowers involved in the project. The tool has been equipped with a user-friendly interface and proactively alerts the participating companies via SMS or e-mail if the temperature on one of their properties is about to drop below zero degrees.
Food Cluster of Lower Austria
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