ABOUT VINE LEAF DISEASE AND AI
Earthy, angular, oaky, tannic, elegant, flamboyant, zesty – these and many other words can be used to describe wine. They refer to the aroma, to the taste, to the aftertaste, to the texture. There is a huge vocabulary that depicts every imaginable aspect of the wine culture, from growing grapes to serving and savouring the beverage. “Wine, true begetter of all arts that be”, as a poet famously said.
However, there are words that are not included into the vast wine dictionary, but are beginning to have no less relevance. Parkinson, for example. Wait, what? Parkinson, as in Parkinson disease? Yes. It pertains not to the beverage, though, but to the consequences of pesticides exposure among winegrowers. A recent study by Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, indicates that vineyard workers and farmers who have been exposed to pesticides during their working life suffer from reduced levels of brain activity. Parkinson, a neurological disorder, which affected movie star Michael J Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali, has now been officially classified as an occupational hazard for agricultural workers.
Can we do without pesticides? Apparently, not yet. But what we can do is assess and accurately predict where and how many pesticides can be used — with caution and in moderation. This would significantly reduce the health risks for winegrowers. What we need to know is the spread and degree of pest infestation. And this is where AI comes to rescue. AI can detect leaf diseases and nutrient deficiency symptoms before the human eye can see them. The spread of diseases can be detected at an early stage and made available to the winegrowers as a map.