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Oxford tech to boost South Australian vine health

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An English agritech company that uses satellite imagery and machine learning to predict vineyard health will establish its Australian headquarters in Adelaide.

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Oxford-based Deep Planet ran a pilot project in South Australia ahead of the 2021 vintage before deciding to establish a permanent presence in the major wine producing state.

Deep Planet specialises in monitoring vineyards at scale to predict vine health, irrigation, yields and maturity with plans to further develop tools including automated disease, nutrition, and carbon baselining over the coming growing season.

Combining expertise in satellite imagery, computer vision and machine learning, the company aims to deliver value to growers and winemakers by presenting data in a practical way that results in improved efficiency and higher grape quality.

Deep Planet CEO Sushma Shankar said the company would add to South Australia’s space and Agtech ecosystems, helping to create jobs and expertise.

“We commercially launched our VineSignal platform in Australia last season and we saw an exceptional level of uptake of our technology,” he said.

“This has given us the confidence to make this investment into South Australia.”

The VineSignal technology was used in SA by global wine producer Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the maker of Jacob’s Creek wines, in a project across 1000 hectares during the 2021 season.

“Deep Planet has demonstrated some exciting capability in helping us to better predict yields, manage maturity and variability in our blocks,” Pernod Ricard Winemakers National Viticulturist Philip Deverell said.

“With all of our grower and estate vineyards to monitor and plan intake for, against a backdrop of ever-changing climatic conditions, it’s definitely the way our industry needs to go to ensure we remain globally competitive.”

Deep Planet is being helped to establish in Adelaide through the State Government’s Landing Pad program, which assists companies to build a presence in the state to create jobs locally and forge connections with local vendors, partners, customers and collaborators.

South Australia typically accounts for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual wine production with the Riverland, Barossa, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek among its largest regions.

Minister for Trade and Investment Stephen Patterson said Deep Planet’s innovative technology will provide much-needed capability and improve global competitiveness to the industry that relies heavily on exports.

“Our state has a reputation for attracting some of the world’s leading innovation companies and Deep Planet’s expertise aligns with the State Government’s priorities of growing our key sectors such as food, wine, agribusiness, space and hi-tech,” he said.

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