Agriculture is no longer just agriculture as we once knew it. In the Balkans, as well as in other countries, agriculture is increasingly positioned alongside other sectors of the economy. Once traditional farming practices are being replaced by science-based findings and management models. Digitalization and smart agriculture are increasingly penetrating the once traditional economic sector.
Agriculture, more than other economic sectors, is affected by the weather, climate changes, and the environmental impacts. Farmers therefore need to resort to science and digital solutions even more than in other industries.
Variables that affect the quality and success of production are tried to be eliminated from the overall equation of success with self-learning systems and artificial intelligence algorithms.
Even in North Macedonia, wine producers use their knowledge to their advantage, thereby stabilizing production and raising the quality of their products. Fermentation processes are no longer uncontrolled and random, but take place in a controlled environment with precisely defined and prescribed parameters. Digitization and parameter management in technological processes are not a fashion trend, but are becoming necessary protocols for successful and stable operations and product quality.
The establishment of nine meteorological stations located throughout the Tikveš Wine area is a basis and a big step towards comprehensive undertaking for obtaining agrometeorological data within the newly established web platform https://www.e-tikvesvineyards.com.mk.
The system allows the ability to monitor the gathered meteorological data in real time and analyse it. It also serves for obtaining and recording data related to soil characteristics, water stress, enabling vineyard control during the process of vegetation, pest control, disease management, as well as monitoring of the grapes ripening process.
The gathered information enables the application of SMART eco-viticulture by lower use of pesticides and practicing techniques that result with healthier and higher quality of grapes. This process results in much better wines’ quality, as well as a financial income of wine producers.
The web platform is supported by an advanced soil laboratory where approximately thousand grape growers can analyse soil samples to determine the ideal grape variety for planting, as well as the type and quantity of nutrients required. Additionally, the modern lab is equipped with a grape berry scanning instrument, enabling decisions on harvest timing for specific areas, grape varieties, and vineyards based on the results.
This laboratory facilitates in-depth terroir studies, research on various grape variety clones, yeast isolation from specific micro-locations, identification of native fungal species, analysis of aroma compounds, polyphenols in grapes and wines, and more.
The valuable insights derived from laboratory analyses and research, along with the resources provided by the established web platform, will serve as educational material for organizing workshops on sustainable grape production for grape growers. Furthermore, it will support the education of young individuals, including PhD and MSc students, fostering teamwork and knowledge-sharing.