The field labs

Better fruit and wine-growing through technological excellence

The lab for the agricultural sector - Innovation

Into the future, with know-how and high tech

Field labs reflect

the agricultural
sector of South Tyrol

LIDO has one lab in a fruit-growing orchard and one in a vineyard. Both labs are located in close proximity to the Laimburg Research Centre. The wine-growing field lab was established on terraces on a parcel of land with a steepness of 70%. The fruit-growing lab is located on flat land.

Both plots were connected with fiber optical lines and supplied with electricity. The equipment’s energy supply and rapid data transmission are thus assured. Furthermore, there is a container building with a workplace located right in each parcel. The equipment can be controlled and monitored from this container. The data coming from the various different sensors are transmitted to a single, common database, thus permitting complex processes to be better understood. Via mobile devices, the data can be accessed and evaluated anywhere. The stations are equipped with a microcomputer, allowing the most-varied of cultivation measures at the locations (e.g., irrigation, the application of fertilisers or plant protection products) to be controlled remotely with the fixed spraying system.


of outdoor
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of onsite
office space




spraying system

Plant protection products can be applied with optimal timing, thus permitting effective and environmentally friendly control of pathogens and pests

Fixed spraying system technology is a means of applying plant protectants employing stationary mounted nozzles to spray the given substance in the orchard or vineyard. Especially in steep locations, this enhances work safety and protects workers from the sprays. It is also possible to carry out spraying at any desired time; each treatment can be carried out faster, thus significantly enhancing effectiveness. Back in 2013, Laimburg Research Centre had already launched a five-year feasibility study which yielded positive results: throughout the course of the study, adequate plant protection was achieved, comparable to results obtained by conventional spraying with respect to both biological effectiveness and possible drift and residues.



Due to climate change, precipitation patterns are changing and because of this we are experiencing anomalous precipitation events as well as drought. As a consequence, the management of water as a limited natural resource is increasing in importance.

The adjustment of irrigation to meet the effective requirements of trees and grapevines is still in its childhood. In recent years, various different technical approaches have been developed permitting a significantly more-efficient utilization of the resource “water” in fruit orchards and vineyards. These include determining the availability of water in the soil using the appropriate sensors and the transmission of the corresponding measurement values for remote analysis. By the same token, it is now possible to remotely issue commands or employ intelligent applications to influence irrigation cycles. Using tensiometers and moisture sensors in the soil, the water content can be measured and irrigation automatically activated via magnetic valves. Laimburg Research Centre already began ten years ago with the development and testing of different methods to determine the plants’ current water requirements.

The field lab

for apple cultivation

The purpose of the field lab for apple cultivation is to promote innovation and make a contribution to maintaining the competitiveness of local fruit-growing operations.

The field lab for apple cultivation has an area of 0.65 ha and was established on flat land. In order to carry out a validation for as long as possible, in the spring of 2022, the entire parcel was planted with the late-ripening variety Rosy Glow Pink Lady®. For this purpose, double axis trees were trained to a modern robot-ready multi-axis system. Plant protection products will be applied using stationary application equipment. To do this, linear “flippers” were installed above the tree crowns. These innovative pulsating sprinklers feature a low flow rate which helps to reduce drift and run-off of the spraying liquid. The spraying liquid is mixed in a tank equipped with a mixer mechanism positioned in the middle of the orchard. Thanks to the defined application time, only a predetermined quantity of plant protectant is applied. After the application, a cleaning mechanism clears the lines with clean water and empties them, if needed, by means of an air compressor. All of these processes are controlled via a central system. Additionally, the orchard is equipped with a drip irrigation system which also permits direct-injection fertigation.

The Guyot training system

The apple trees are grown in a Guyot training system consisting of eight axes spaced at 30 cm. To achieve this, the trees were planted 2.4 meters apart from each other and with the rows spaced 2.5 meters. This training system facilitates the use of modern robotic equipment.

Total netting

The entire orchard was provided with a hail net and the sides were fitted with insect netting. These nets protect against hail and also serve as a barrier for insect pests. The use of insecticides can thus be reduced.

Water-conserving frost protection

For frost protection, MegaNet® sprinklers were installed over the hail netting. These sprinklers ensure an especially economical use of water and ensure the even distribution of the water to the trees. Additionally, the “flippers” of the stationary application unit can also be used below the hail net for frost protection. This allows to use the frost protection system even if the hail netting is closed – a major advantage. Both systems can be operated independently.

The field lab

for wine-growing

The field lab for wine-growing is intended to promote innovation, enhance work safety, and make a contribution to maintaining the competitiveness of local wine-growers.
The field lab for wine-growing was established on a 0.4-ha plot of steep land. In doing so, the stationary application equipment was integrated into the existent vineyard which was planted with Chardonnay in the Guyot training system. For the fixed spraying system special nozzles were installed on the sides of the grape zone and “flippers” over the leaf area. Consequently, this made it possible to adequately cover the entire leaf area and the grape zone. A 1,000-liter tank ensures that there is always sufficient water for the mixing of the spraying liquid. The spraying liquid is prepared in a tank with mixing mechanism. A pump conveys the spraying liquid into the lines from where it is then sprayed via the sprinklers. A cleaning mechanism ensures that the lines are cleaned with water after each application. Additionally, the system is equipped with an air compressor which can empty the lines. The central control system allows the individual components to be fed into the lines in a predetermined sequence and duration.

The field lab for wine-growing reflects the conditions in South Tyrol

In order to be able to realistically test the digital technology under conditions prevailing in South Tyrol, the field lab was integrated in a vineyard featuring terraces and a steepness grade of 70%.


All of the collected data are transmitted to a single common database permitting cultivation measures to be carried out in a timely and more-effective way. Further, this made it possible to assess and validate the new sensor and robotic technology.

Fixed spraying system

The fixed spraying system was tested and validated by Laimburg Research Centre over the course of a five-year feasibility study launched in 2015. Decidedly positive findings were achieved that were comparable to application by sprayers.