Pernod Ricard Winemakers is one of New Zealand’s leading wine companies and maker of iconic New Zealand wines, including Church Road and Brancott Estate. The winemaker is also part of the Pernod Ricard Group, the world’s second largest wine, spirits and champagne-style company, managing an unrivaled portfolio of over 240 premium brands.
On Thursday, November 9, Pernod Ricard Winemakers will share the stage with another stellar agriculture brand, Smart Apply, at BA Pumps Tech Day in Blenheim, New Zealand. The event is designed to showcase BA Pumps’ Smart Sprayer equipped with the Smart Apply Intelligent Spray Control System in Pernod Ricard’s vineyard. Smart Apply’s Chief Engineer, Gary Vanderbark, will attend both the morning and afternoon sessions to speak and meet directly with New Zealand wine grape growers.
The site for BA Pumps Tech Day is Pernod Ricard’s vineyard in Blenheim. Since 2020, Pernod Ricard Winemakers has partnered with BA Pumps & Sprayers to trial innovative technology In New Zealand, implementing a BA canopy sprayer with Smart Apply precision spray and data technology, the first vineyard to do so in New Zealand.
The BA Smart Sprayer applies the easy-to-use Smart-Apply LiDAR sensor technology to sense and detect the vineyard’s canopy and assess foliage density, before automatically adjusting each spray nozzle to ensure it only applies pesticides where required. The result is reduced drift, reduced chemical use and less waste than conventional sprayers.
Pernod Ricard’s Transformation Manager for Viticulture, David Allen, has been leading the project. Having been with the company for 18 years, Allen has a long history with grape growing. “The role of the Transformation Team is to explore the adoption and integration of new technology that will help us achieve our Vineyard of the Future vision,” he explains.
“We are always looking at ways we can reduce our impact and nurture our terroirs. The LiDAR-based control from Smart-Apply fits well with our strategic goals so we were keen to investigate more and continue our trials of the technology,” Allen continues.
With over 2,000 hectares of vineyard in New Zealand, Pernod Ricard Winemakers were the first in the country to trial the technology, requiring a lot of collaboration. They now operate three sprayers with the Smart-Apply system to help manage the risk of disease. “We were excited for it to arrive on site and see what it could do compared to the other sprayers we had. We ran comprehensive comparison trials over the past two growing seasons to understand how the Smart Apply System compares to our existing sprayers. Over the Vintage 2023 season, field tests using the three-row sprayer showed an impressive +30% reduction in chemical usage compared to conventional sprayers. Other impressive benefits included a reduction in spray drift,” Allen says.
The introduction of technology can help viticulturalists operate more efficiently, while also appealing to new generations of talent by embracing innovation. “The Smart Apply System is easy to set up and operate. The system controls the entire spraying function, including turning on and off at the start and end of rows, simplifying operations and making it accessible for all to use,” Allen says.
Since the project began, BA Pumps and Pernod Ricard Winemakers have worked closely to integrate feedback and learnings from the trials to create a sprayer suitable for New Zealand vineyards.
“The support from BA has been great and it has very much been a joint project the whole way. As well as the technology side, we’ve been really impressed with BA’s engineering, especially for the three-row sprayer which needs a lot more modification and setting up than a two row. We also liked the attention to detail. Their commitment to health and safety features for operators has been outstanding,” Allen says,
“We are very pleased with the results and have ordered three more Smart Apply system for the Vintage 2024 season. Our testing will continue to monitor the performance of the sprayers throughout their life so we can get a fuller picture of their effectiveness,” he adds.
This is a unique opportunity for New Zealand winemakers to see the Smart Apply System in use and meet and ask questions of Smart Apply’s Chief Engineer Gary Vandenbark. Register for BA Pumps Tech Day’s morning and afternoon session in Blenheim, New Zealand, on Thursday, November 9 here.