Supporting Decisions on Canopy Management in the Italian Demo Site with VISCA DSS

VISCA DSS is integrating climate and agricultural models with farmers’ management specifications in order to design short practices, medium- and long-term adaptation strategies to climate change.

In the Irpinia Valley, located in south of Italy (about 60 km from Naples), a very warm winter influenced the precocity of the budbreak that occurred one week earlier than average. Also, blooming advanced earlier followed by a rainy month of June with some problems of downy mildew. However, with the predictions supplied by VISCA DSS, the Mastroberardino viticulture team was able to contain the disease by increasing the number of treatments sprays, anticipating the action as the prediction of several days of rainfall was given.

VISCA DSS showing that bud break and blooming have been achieved and earlier than normal (July 2020)


Blooming observed in the field - Italian Demo Site (July 2020)

This summer, VISCA DSS, in particular the short-term and mid-term climate forecasts, has predicted lower precipitation than normal and higher temperature than normal in Mirabella Eclano estate in the Campania region, where our Italian demonstration site is located. Before the phenological phase of blooming, the DSS, through the seasonal forecast, predicted a dry and hotter summer than normal, followed by the months of September and October with the same trend. Aglianico is the grapevine under the VISCA experimental plot and it is extremely sensible to powdery mildew disease. The dry season usually influences the development of the fungus directly on the grapes. Therefore, such useful predictions allowed the Mastroberardino vinegrowers to take decisions about the canopy and vineyards management in advance. First of all they programmed:

  • the sulphur treatments in addiction to the usual sprays;
  • the shoot trimming to reduce the canopy surface during the drought stress;
  • the work of the soils to avoid grass competition and loss of water from the soil;
  • not to proceed with the leaf removal that is common in the Aglianico grape management.

These decisions show how important it is to understand the vintage to take actions in the field. Each action has impacts on vine health, vineyard balance, quality and sanity grapes, yield and overspending in products and manpower. The most important things are the timing and the planned intensity of each operation, it is crucial to avoid delay in every action in the field.  

Seasonal forecast for the Italian Demo site provided by VISCA DSS

What would happened if this forecast is not available (Business as Usual scenario)?

Treatments would have been applied later than advisable in June, reducing their effectiveness by allowing downy mildew to become more established. Same scenario in July against powdery mildew where the sulphur treatments were determinant to avoid the spread of the disease. The consequences would have been the possibility of crop loss and the necessity to apply more curative treatments.

Thinking about the canopy management, the delay in the shoot trimming or in the work of the soil would have caused a major stress on the vines and a complication about the ripening. Same thing about the leaf removal that would have caused the sunburn on the berries.   

Which impacts are expected taken into consideration the predictions of VISCA DSS?

Cost savings result in avoiding curative treatments and more treatments. Moreover, the better conditions for canopy development and sink-source balance will have impacts on the quality, healthier crop and a lower environmental impact as value add.

Several parameters are taken into consideration by VISCA tool besides the phenological cycle, irrigation needs and weather information. These parameters and targets include: Sugar content, Acidity (Ph), Yield (m3), Labour cost (manpower, products, equipment, etc), Diseases impact and Sustainability management. This will be of paramount importance in a climate-change scenario.

Follow our monthly stories and predictions of VISCA DSS! We will make one story per month focusing on one climate event foreseen on our demo site(s).


This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730253.