Tag Archives: south australia

Remote mobile communication

Building telecommunication infrastructure in third world countries and remote locations has been a key issue for a number of years.

About 1.5 billion people in developing nations have no reliable phone service and up to 80% do not have access to internet.

Researchers at Flinders University in South Australia have developed a highly secure mobile system to assist emergency service units worldwide.

The Serval Project includes a free app for Android devices and a mesh extender. The extender, which runs on USB power, is a small box that acts as a Wi-Fi hub or radio transmitter.

Project leader Paul Gardner-Stephen says the device was intended as a simple and inexpensive remote communication alternative that could help people in the event of a crisis.

“It has Wi-Fi so your phone can talk to the box, and then the box can talk to other boxes by Wi-Fi but also by long-range VHF radio that can go many kilometres under ideal conditions,” he says.

“The combination of these things creates networks that can cover large areas and people without requiring any infrastructure at all.”

remote mobile
Serval Mesh Extender

The aim of the project is to give the Serval mesh extenders to emergency relief teams in disaster situations so they can establish communication channels in remote areas.

Gardner-Stephen says users who do not have the app in times of crisis could download it with the help of the extender and have it ready for immediate use.

“The combination that we’re doing is really quite unique in giving people the opportunity to build a communications network anywhere,” he says.

“We want this to be something that is easier to use than any one of these other communication apps that you can get on smart phones.

“For this to help as many people as it can in the world it needs to be free. To do it any other way is to put unnecessary and undesirable barriers between people.”

The software is completely open sourced and gives people the freedom to develop their own app to work with the system or build their own Serval mesh box.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer’s (IEEE) Humanitarian Technology Challenge lists data connectivity and communication resources for isolated health offices as one of the top three solutions of reducing poverty and improving health services.

Serval first trialled its technology at the 610 kmArkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the rugged Flinders Ranges, 600 km north of Adelaide.

It was developed in conjunction with the New Zealand Red Cross with further support coming from the Networked Infrastructureless Cooperation for Emergency Response (NICER) project in Germany.

The project was one of five winners in the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge where it received AUD$279,000, which will be used to make technical improvements. It has also received grants from the United States and the Netherlands.

Countries in the Pacific region are highly susceptible to natural disasters including tropical cyclones, floods, and earthquakes.

The mobile phone system will extend testing to pilot the program in the Pacific over the next 18 months ahead of its first large scale rollout in the region.

Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have been shortlisted as potential destinations.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary Co-Director Margaret Sprigg said Arkaroola’s rugged mountainous terrain was the perfect location to test the Serval system.

“To have a system that can be field-based and portable for search-and-rescue scenarios is absolutely amazing,” she said.

“To be able to get some sort of antenna or base station up on a hill gives you access to so much more country. Its design is remarkable.”

– Caleb Radford

This article was first published by The Lead on 11 May 2016. Read the original article here.

A “vinnovative” solution

Barossa Valley brothers Joshua and Simon Schmidt started their South Australian company Vinnovate in 2012 and have developed a bottle closure that releases a solution to reduce the impact of preservatives or add subtle flavours to wine.

When activated, by pressing a button on top of the screw cap, the solution is mixed with the wine and binds to free sulphites, removing their preservative properties and reducing their ability to cause a reaction.

The Vinnovate invention has beaten more than 100 Australian and New Zealand industry innovations to take out the Brancott Estate Winexplorer Challenge.

Co-founder and chief innovation officer Joshua Schmidt says the award – a $35,000 cash prize plus the opportunity to work with Pernod Ricard to bring the product to market – is a huge thrill.

“We believe that the Winexplorer Challenge has validated our idea and it now gives us a springboard from which to go forward,” he says.

Joshua says it will be up to the consumer as to whether they activate the solution or not.

“We’ve found from a lot of market research that more and more people are experiencing a reaction when they drink wine and it’s actually pushing people away from the industry,” he says.

“We wanted to create something that was very similar to an existing screw cap but has an element of functionality because across the wider consumer goods space there is a strong trend towards individualisation.”

img - Industries_primary industries_research and development160422_Screw cap innovation removes wine preservatives at the push of a button_bannerP
Joshua and Simon Schmidt

Sulphites, which release sulphur dioxide, are preservatives widely used in winemaking because of their antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

Common reactions to sulphites include headaches and red, itchy skin.

“Being Barossa boys and children of the industry we set out to find a means so that everyone can enjoy wine,” Joshua says.

“We believe it freshens up the wine as well and allows it to be more of a consumer-centric experience rather than traditionally having to wait for 30 to 60 minutes after opening for the wine to ‘breathe’.”

“We want to do something good for the industry.”

Vinnovate Managing Director Simon Schmidt is a winemaker while Joshua’s background is in marketing, with a particular focus on the pharmaceutical industry.

The Schmidt brothers have developed prototypes and have commenced discussions with a number of wineries around trials.

Joshua says he hopes for a commercial release towards the end of the year.

“It’s our vision to see this as the next generation screw cap closure for wine,” he says.

“We are currently talking to some wineries about this and it’s our goal that this will be inclusive wine packaging.”

“We believe this has tremendous widespread appeal and application just like how Clare Valley was an early adopter of the screw cap 40-odd years ago.”

The Barossa Valley produces world-renowned brands such as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass.

According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine, Australia was the world’s seventh largest wine producing nation in 2015.

South Australia is consistently responsible for almost 50% of Australia’s annual production.

Brancott Estate is a pioneer of New Zealand wine, planting the first sauvignon blanc vines in Marlborough in 1975.

– Andrew Spence

This article was first published by The Lead on 22 April 2016. Read the original article here

Innovations in grape growing technology apply across the industry

Challenging and changing conditions have forced South Australian farmers to be smart and economical with their land — stretching all the way back to the stump-jump plough.

Peter Hackworth, Executive Officer of the Wine Grape Council of South Australia, says today’s farmers are no different – and they deserve to be recognised – so he has established the Vinnovation Award.

“I thought there must still be people out there being inventive, but it’s hard for farmers to put their hand up – they’re quite modest people,” Hackworth says.

The awards will be held on 17 July at Adelaide Oval. The four finalists have designed innovative ideas, practices and equipment that will be presented to over 200 wine grape growers.

“The criteria we assess them by is their ability to make an impact, to actually save money and make money, the cost of adopting the practice, and the ability of it to be applied across the state.”

The finalists include systems of delaying ripening across different areas of a vineyard, better sprayers for preventing Eutypa outbreaks, rapid processing of GPS yield data, and a grape bin with inbuilt scales.

“Most of them aren’t interested in commercialising the ideas – they’re just interested in growing grapes – but they’re happy to share them.

“Were looking at getting engineering plans made for the spray unit and the trailer, for example, and make them available so people can make them themselves or have them made.

“It’s classic farming – not wanting to get further away from what they like doing.”

Kim Anderson
Kim Anderson

Maturity delaying techniques for sloping vineyards

Kim Anderson, from the Adelaide Hills, has developed a suite of techniques to ensure more even ripening of his fruit across his sloping property.

Fruit at the top of the block ripens significantly faster (a difference of 1.5 – 2 Baume) than at the bottom, causing management problems come harvest time.

In general, fruit is ripening a month earlier than it was 30 years ago thanks to a warmer climate – the ability to delay and get more even crops is of increasing interest to growers.

Anderson has applied three trial methods. By using herbicide on the undervine grass in the lower block, and keeping it intact on the higher ground until budburst, the soil at the top of the block is kept cooler. At harvest the different between fruit ripeness was only 0.1 Baume.

Another technique was trimming the vines just above the highest fruiting nodes early in the season – this delays ripening by about a month and complements the other techniques well.

Finally, Anderson pruned certain vines very late in the season to delay their development and measured them against a control group. The results were a success.

Anderson’s techniques allow greater uniformity to vine growth stages across a sloping block. There are also advantages to fruit ripening in cooler months, enhancing flavour development and maximising the value of fruit.

Phil Longbottom
Phil Longbottom

Bin Trailer with built in scales

Bill and Phil Longbottom from Padthaway, South Australia, are independent grape growers who supply to a number of processors

Their bins were previously loaded in the vineyard before being driven to and offloaded at a weighing pad. This resulted in under or overloaded grape bins and a higher risk of accident – for example a forklift tipping when handling an overweight bin. There are also price penalties for over-delivering on contracts or overloading trucks.

The solution was to build a dual-axle trailer with suspension and built in scales, that displays a digital readout to the harvester operator. All construction was undertaken on their farm at an estimated cost of $6000.

Benefits of their innovation include being able to offload bins straight on to delivery trucks to save double-handling the grapes, better scheduling for trucks, better yield estimation during picking, reduced noise thanks to suspension, and it removes the problem of variation in volume weight between varieties.

They’ve paid for their device in one season by selling the fruit that is excess to processing contracts to other wineries instead.

Hans Loder
Hans Loder

Rapid GPS yield mapping and analysis

Hans Loder works in mining, but he has an ongoing association with Coonawarra’s Katnook Estate.

Katnook uses GPS yield monitors on its harvesters to accurately track yield across vineyards. The data collected was typically sent for processing in to yield maps that took several months to be processed and delivered, much too late to be of use in harvesting decisions.

Loder developed a script to process the data within 24 hours of the harvester moving through the block. It bypasses expensive mapping software to display data natively in Google Earth.

Pixels are colour coded according to yield for quick analysis. The data is also displayed in much higher resolutions than before – with data points down to 150 mm – allowing investigation of individual vines and selective harvesting of high value fruit.

Katnook reduced its data processing costs by 75 per cent, using the new yield maps to its advantage in pruning, nutrition and weed management.

Ben Blows
Ben Blows

Recirculating cordon sprayer

Ben Blows is an independent grape grower from Macclesfield. Cool and wet climate grapevines, like Blows’ vineyard, are often affected by Eutypa, a fungus which infects pruning wounds and shortens the life of vines significantly.

Blows designed and constructed a recirculating sprayer to reduce the spread of Eutypa. His cordon sprayer uses four nozzles on each side, targeted to hit pruning wounds while allowing spraying at up to seven kilometres per hour.

The sprayer was put together with components from other machinery and vineyard waste, including a mount from a leaf blower, pump from an older sprayer, and 44 gallon drums. The cost of the device was estimated at $6000.

Sprays are applied within 48 hours of completing pruning. The sprayer uses a reduced volume of chemicals, which directly results in savings and allows him to use a smaller tank, limited soil compaction in his high rainfall vineyard.

Long term, Ben expects that the greater protection from Eutypa will significantly improve the commercial life of his vines.

 – Jack Baldwin

This article was originally published on The Lead on 15 July 2015. Read the original article.