New tool aims to help wine growers - www.bunchrot.co.nz
Auckland, 25 January 2012 A new tool is set to help the wine industry more accurately train staff to make visual estimates about the severity of bunch rot among the vines. The Bunch Rot Assessment Trainer or BRAT ( www.bunchrot.co.nz ) is a Visual Estimation Tool (VET) that has been developed by scientists at Plant & Food Research.
"Visual estimates are an important function in the vineyard" says BRAT developer Gareth Hill. "Vineyard staff are routinely making estimates about parameters such as bunch exposure, bunch compactness and leaf colour; parameters that would be difficult or costly to do by other methods".
However, human error is a major factor in these assessments with different people likely to consistently under or overestimate. The BRAT tool trains assessors to estimate percentage bunch rot severity in grapes accurately using digital images. Their estimates are compared with actual percentages and the tool indicates the degree of under or overestimation. Results are permanently stored, allowing trainees to track their improvement after subsequent training sessions.
Published research has shown use of this and other visual estimation training software does improve the accuracy of visual estimates. The use of VETs, such as BRAT, will allow vineyard staff to improve the assessment accuracy of parameters that are crucial for crop productivity and quality.
The BRAT tool is the result of Plant & Food Research’s Disease Risk Management Team and Hawke’s Bay-based HortPlus, a company specialising in horticultural management software and decision support tools.
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