Winelands media article March 2023

Smart farming in a changing world

There is no doubt that the climate is changing. A report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that temperatures are about 1.0°C higher than in pre-industrial times and could climb by another 1.5°C by the early 2030s. A prediction that climate change could wipe out more than half of the world’s vineyards by 2050 is a real eye-opener.

One thing is certain. Business can’t carry on as usual. The viticulture industry could face massive changes if growers don’t adapt. Even though it may not be possible to reverse the effects of climate change, we can mitigate the risks by applying smart farming.

Accurate weather data leads to smarter decisions, like determining the best times for spray applications, reducing risks through disease models, and selecting the best cultivars per geographic location based on historic weather and terrain data.

For South Africa, this approach was put into motion when EUREKA, the largest inter-government R&D & Innovation funding body, brought Metos® SA (under WinField United South Africa), TerraClim, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Pessl Instruments, Geosmart, and FFG together. The Climate Smart Agriculture Project was born.

Metos® SA committed to installing weather stations in a network across the Western Cape and will focus on increasing the amount of land under weather monitoring. These stations provide valuable and accurate data in the region with its complex topography, vital information in a fast-changing world. The 200th weather station went online in October 2022, and the numbers are still growing.
What sets Metos® SA apart is that it provides hyper-localised weather data, a valuable asset to a farmer who wants to make informed decisions and plan better.

TerraClim helped place these weather stations strategically to improve the accuracy of high-resolution climate interpolations taking factors such as elevation and solar radiation into account. TerraClim uses pioneering integrated data resources to give access to detailed climate and terrain information that will help navigate the increase in seasonal changes.

Other milestones under the Climate Smart Agriculture project so far include training 200 agriculture agents on the benefits of using the data provided by FieldClimate and TerraClim to farm smarter. Another was the first Climate Smart Agriculture convention which brought together more than 100 leading industry stakeholders and strategic thinkers to discuss the not-so-distant future challenges.

The team at Metos® SA is very excited about the collaboration possibilities in the industry, just another way of leading progression in agriculture in South Africa.

These actions might be small steps in a much bigger picture, but the seed has been planted and can grow into positive change. Planning for the future offers a powerful advantage!