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Allegrini 2018
NEW GREEN REVOLUTION

The high-tech answer to fires in the vineyard? A smart anti-frost fan: the first in Italy by Caprai

From the rebirth of Sagrantino to its success, the experimentation of the Montefalco winery continues, between high technology and sustainability

From the rebirth of Sagrantino to its success, experimentation in the winery that was its creator is continuous, today in the sign of high technology and sustainability for the future: for the first time in Italy, in the vineyards of Arnaldo Caprai's famous Umbria red wine, a large smart anti-frost fan against frost is the high-tech response to the lighting of fires in the vineyards, whose smart management has allowed the winery over the years to save half the working hours and to reduce the use of pesticides in the vineyard by 1/3.
The pioneering experiment - in the Umbria Region’s Agroclim Technology project - is just the latest in a series that Caprai has put in place in an integrated system of sustainability in vineyard and cellar management. “This is the last step we have taken with a view to prevention - explains Marco Caprai - the problem of spring frosts is now very frequent in Umbria, much more important than hail. Revolutions don’t happen in a day: to make real sustainability we need to create a sort of range of solutions to bring the grapes to perfect ripeness, and the fan is only the latest in what we do in the vineyard. From the moment we started to do sustainability until today, experience has led us to change our path. Today in agriculture there is the possibility to draw on the digital revolution and tools that only a few years ago were unimaginable”.
How does it work? The fan is a large retractable propeller, which folds back on itself when not in use and disappears into the landscape of the vineyards. Once programmed, it starts automatically when the temperature levels drop below the set threshold: tested on the nights when in Montefalco there was a sharp drop in temperature, which reached about - 2 °C, in the area where the device was placed (it covers about 5-6 hectares) the temperature rose by 5-6 °C. And there is also a fog gun, which performs the same action as the antifreeze candles, but in a much more practical and faster way.
A 4.0 viticulture model that not only translates into 360-degree environmental sustainability, but also has real economic savings: “We have data from about twenty harvests”, explains Caprai, “and the results are evident: we have gone from 600 hours of work per hectare to 250-300 hours, and the quality of the grapes has probably improved. We also have the data of what is the Grape Assistence and Smart Meteo part that allow us a 1/3 reduction in the use of pesticides in the countryside (with peaks of -60% in favorable seasons) on average standards of good practice”.
An experimentation rooted in the New Green Revolution project, launched by Marco Caprai in 2008 together with 8 other companies of the Consorzio di Tutela dei Vini di Montefalco (Adanti, Antonelli, Antano, Antano, Colleallodole, Perticaia, Scacciadiavoli and Tabarrini), the Department of Agricultural Science and Technology of the University of Milan and the Umbria Agricultural and Food Technology Park. If the results of new tests will confirm the first ones, the company is ready to install, within a few years, at least five more devices.
In this suspended time, where the campaign does not stop, “we must continue to innovate, to invest and to carry on with production in the best possible way”. As for the problems of wine stocks and the reduction in yields for the 2020 harvest, for Caprai “everyone must adjust according to their needs. We need to have more than one weapon at our disposal, whether it be the improved cut or the green harvest. I think there will certainly be some pressure on white wines, while for red wines the problem is less. To talk about reducing yields today is absolutely premature. We have to deal first and foremost with the weather. On the other hand, I am afraid to think of using CMO funds for compulsory distillation: perhaps the American market will start up again sooner than we think, I would like to have the possibility of using them to support my sales in the United States rather than to distill the product, which is the last of the weapons that should be used, even if it should not be demonized for this. Let us remember, however, that if we have reached 6.2 billion euros in exports, it was mainly because we no longer spent European funds on distillation. I would give priority to a Decree that would take care of the liquidity of agricultural enterprises that was easy and ready to use”.

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