In a competitive and dynamic landscape such as viticulture, the ability to effectively trial, evaluate and embed innovations can provide a distinct advantage.
For the past five years, Pernod Ricard Winemakers has invested in the development of the world’s first Autonomous Vineyard Tractors (AVT), working with Blenheim-based Smart Machine to customise the Oxin for its Marlborough vineyards.
The cutting-edge technology has been tailored to target labour-intensive tasks such as mowing, mulching, and defoliating, growing vineyard efficiencies and addressing the challenges posed by ongoing labour shortages in the wine industry.
Pernod Ricard Winemakers recently integrated two Oxin into Hawke’s Bay, and will invest in custom innovation with Smart Machine to ensure the AVTs can be leveraged for the region, and for other growers.
David Allen, Viticulture Transformation Manager at Pernod Ricard Winemakers, says the company is proud of its continued investment in the ATV technology, seeing first-hand how it can “revolutionise” the viticulture landscape. “In just two weeks, we were able to complete all the required block mapping, network set up and operator training, ready for the arrival of the Oxin AVTs at our Matapiro Vineyard - a large and fairly remote Hawke’s Bay vineyard.”
Kate Lattey, Transformation Director at Pernod Ricard Winemakers, says they are always looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions and their impact on the soil. “From the beginning, we discussed how many tasks could be done simultaneously in a single pass. The more tasks we can do at once, the less time the machine has to travel up and down the rows. The next step is to “optimise” the use of AVTs across operations, as well as introducing smaller, fully electric machines, she says. “We’re also working on converting the AVTs to green energy and expect the first green energy prototype to be built in 2024.”