Geologists Matthew Staid, Ph.D., and Melissa Staid, Ph.D., started VineView Imaging LLC in 2002 and incorporated as Scientific Aerial Imaging Inc. in 2008.
Since then, VineView has been the premier supplier of precision aerial imaging to grape growers in California’s North and Central coasts. VineView has five employees currently serving California, Oregon and Washington vineyards. Imaging products include vigor and disease mapping, water stress mapping and aerial photography. Customers are individual vineyard owners, vineyard management companies, large multivineyard operations and publicly traded companies. VineView also serves fruit and nut tree growers in the Central Valley.
The company operates two aircraft equipped with custom imaging ports and cutting-edge scientific imaging cameras and instruments. An in-house calibration lab allows for precise calibration of imaging equipment, which enables them to offer the most consistent aerial imaging products available. GPS data and inertial measurements acquired during flights are used to accurately position the images in true coordinates, so that they can be viewed on portable devices in the field relative to other data used by vineyard managers.
The Staids talked with the Business Journal about the growing popularity of aerial imaging for mapping the spread of vine foes and the impact of widespread drone photography.
What have been recent highlights for your company?
Staids: VineView has developed a leafroll mapping technique based on hyperspectral imaging technologies. Grapevine leafroll disease is a virus that occurs in every major grape growing region of the world and results in significant economic loss.
Working with Napa County Farm Advisor Monica Cooper and several of our clients, we have validated the aerial leafroll mapping technique and found it to be highly accurate in detecting leafroll infections in red grape varietals. This product is helping growers quantify infection rate and identify diseased vines while control is still a viable option. Removal of diseased vines is a critical part of leafroll disease management.
The RedleafMap product is enjoying increased popularity as orders have increased about 600 percent over the past three years. This new product was recently the focus a feature article in Vineyard and Winery Management magazine (“Detecting grapevine leafroll from the air,” vwm-online.com/images/2015SO_GIESE_Detecting_Leafroll.pdf). We are working toward additional disease mapping capabilities including leafroll mapping in white grape varietals.
VineView has also recently partnered with the Canadian drone company SkySquirrel Technologies (SST). Drone-based imaging promises to put the control in the hands of the user which allows for higher resolution, better timing and more flexibility for acquiring aerial data. This approach allows the vineyard manager to determine when and what type of data is necessary and then collect the aerial data themselves or through a consultant. The data then are processed via the cloud and delivered back to the user. Partnering with SST will also allow VineView to offer its cutting-edge products internationally. France, Canada, Australia, and Chile have embraced the commercial use of drone technology for agriculture. We see these international markets as a great opportunity to validate the benefits of drones as a tool in the vineyard.
How has your operation changed in the past few years?
Staids: The development of new diagnostic imaging tools has been a top priority for VineView over the past several years. While traditional vigor mapping techniques (e.g., NDVI and EVI) still remain a useful tool for crop management, we see a critical shift toward more precise information inputs for agriculture.
Base: Angwin Airport/Parrett Field, Hangar 13, Airport Way, Angwin
Mailing: P.O. Box 1141, St. Helena, CA 94574