Winegrowing: Growing interest among winegrowers in vine protection with drones

More and more winegrowers in Rhineland-Palatinate are interested in using drones for crop protection in their vineyards.

Winegrowing: Growing interest among winegrowers in vine protection with drones

More and more winegrowers in Rhineland-Palatinate are interested in using drones for crop protection in their vineyards. "We have many inquiries," said Plantivo's managing director, Andreas Schlarb, on Friday at an appointment in a vineyard in Trier. His company has already cultivated 50 hectares of steep slopes on the Moselle, Saar and Ahr with wine-growing drones this season. "We made several thousand flights," he said.

Plantivo in Simmertal (Bad Kreuznach district) claims to be the first and currently the only company with legal aviation permits to use this technology in vineyards in Rhineland-Palatinate. Since the start of approval this year, drones have also been used by organic winegrowers. A vineyard at the Bethanien monastery in Trier was the first in the country to have been treated with biological crop protection spraying by drone since May.

In organic viticulture, spraying is done with a mixture of water, sulfur and copper. This is different from conventional crop protection, Schlarb said. The crop protection season usually runs from May to the beginning of August.

The Trier vineyard leaseholder Joachim Molz said: "We hope to be able to carry out flexible crop protection with zero soil pollution from the drone." Organic viticulture is particularly labour-intensive and it is important to meet the right application dates. "The drone is unbeatably flexible compared to helicopters or other methods."

Schlarb wants to buy more drones for the next season. Switzerland is a pioneer: 60 of these drones are now in operation there and helicopters no longer fly for spraying. "It's completely changed. That's where the journey will probably go with us," he said.

Especially on steep slopes, drone technology can help to make work in the vineyard easier and therefore more economical by precisely applying pesticides. Experts also name less drift when using the spray, less noise and more safety as advantages.

Pur Mosel Plantivo

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