Vineyard Kikushima

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

We’ve covered several plant and garden automation projects in The MagPi before, and even a robot farm or two. However, we’ve not previously come across a vineyard with some IoT/automation abilities thanks to Raspberry Pi.

“We are now doing viniculture in Koshu city, Yamanashi Prefecture, and we aim to open a small winery in Katsunuma in the spring of this year,” says Kunio Kikushima, owner of Vineyard Kikushima. “We also aim for eco-friendly wine without any agricultural chemicals where possible. We are now doing viniculture and vinification.”

Kunio is an ex-employee of electronics manufacturers turned vine farmer, he lives a modest lifestyle but wants to make great wine. Kunio didn’t have much experience with programming and developing, but a chance meeting with friend of The MagPi, Masafumi Ohta of the Japanese Raspberry Pi Users Group, enabled him to gain some knowledge of Raspberry Pi and how it could be used to great effect in this instance.

The first prototype system set out in the field. Sensors hang out of the box to obtain an accurate reading

Solving a problem

Grapes can be prone to disease, especially in the relatively high temperatures and humidity of Vineyard Kikushima. While using agricultural chemicals and pesticides helps, they can alter the flavour of the wine, so Kunio needs a more exact method of applying them in the ideal weather conditions for maximum efficiency.

“I wanted to check the timing of high humidity [by] collecting temperature and humidity data automatically measured at regular intervals,” he explains. “I want to check those data in real-time through the network, as the fields are scattered and far away from my office.” This also means the setup requires solar and battery electric power.

The second box is near one of the electric fences used to keep animals out

Field tests

The system is currently in a trial phase, with one prototype being used for the field test, and another reserved for system development. The total cost is ¥30,000–¥40,000 [about £225–£300] including the solar power equipment. Adding 3G dongles to the system, the total expected cost will be ¥50,000–¥60,000 [about £375-£450].

Kunio hopes to add more sensors in the future and offer the system to other farmers in the region.

The first prototype system set out in the field. Sensors hang out of the box to obtain an

“It is very easy to get Raspberry Pi at the store in Akihabara and online shops,” he says. “There are tons of various use cases I can see on the internet. I think I had the illusion that I could make [the vineyard-monitoring system] without any programming skills on Linux. But it is very fun for me to assemble by watching and imitating, and it could be applied to another use with the same platform if the automatic display and measurement of temperature and humidity in fields works well.

“I could make delicious wine with Raspberry Pi.”

How to make Raspberry Pi wine

Step 1. The grapes are monitored from the office using the Hinno IoT system to see what the atmospheric conditions are in the fields. Step 2. A decision based on the monitoring tells Kunio whether or not to spray his crops. The fewer chemicals used, the better. Step 3. The grapes are harvested and turned into small-batch wine. There are several types that are sold from Vineyard Kikushima.

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