Caption: Estate manager Kallie Fernhout in a vineyard at Delaire Graff Wine Estate.
“I recommend FarmTrack for any wine farm that wants to improve its spraying efficiency,” says Kallie Fernhout, viticulturist and manager of Delaire Graff Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch. Kallie installed FarmTrack, a user-friendly GPS tracking device, on two tractors more than five years ago as an effective solution to monitor and control daily operations on the farm.
“Since our wine estate is only 40 ha in size, every bunch of grapes is of great financial value and we cannot afford to lose a single one,” Kallie explains, adding they would suffer significant losses should a vineyard row be missed during spraying. “Vineyards without proper protection are vulnerable to diseases and lower yields. It’s therefore extremely important to ensure every row is sprayed as accurately and thoroughly as possible.”
Kallie points out exact calibration is essential for chemical applications to be effective. “FarmTrack indicates whether a tractor is moving through the vineyard at the correct calibration speed during spraying, which saves us thousands of rand,” he says. “The tracking system has enabled us to increase the efficiency of our spray program, and as a result, the quality and yield of our crop,” he adds.
FarmTrack is especially useful as a farm management tool since Kallie is on-site at the Delaire Graff Wine Estate for only two days of the week. The rest of his time is taken up managing 43 selected vineyards on other farms, from as far afield as Lutzville and Napier, to source additional high-quality grapes for Delaire’s award-winning wines. “FarmTrack allows me to better manage practical farming tasks, such as spraying programs, when I am not physically present,” he says. “I can remotely, but in real time, monitor the spray accuracy of the vineyards by checking when spraying was started and completed, which rows were sprayed, the time that the driver spent in the vineyard as well as the speed of the tractor.”
“FarmTrack allows me to see how long the tractor is stationary while it is being refilled with fuel or the sprayer with chemicals. Being able to determine the correct number of hours worked by the tractor driver is especially helpful when a vineyard is sprayed on a Saturday.”
Kallie also uses FarmTrack to reconcile the actual amount of chemicals applied with the quantity recommended for a vineyard. “We can immediately see if too many chemicals are left over in the sprayer’s tank after spraying a vineyard block.”
Other benefits include FarmTrack helping to record and control diesel consumption and keeping track of the hours worked by each tractor for service intervals. “We are very happy with FarmTrack. It’s an effective tool that assists with planning, cost-saving, efficiency and of course properly sprayed vineyards. I am confident that new users will not be disappointed with it and that they should get their money back within a year.”
Contact FarmTrack on 021 880 1163 or www.farmtrack.co.za