TerraClim is an online spatial decision support system created for the wine industry, to support decision making at farm and field level in the context of a climate change and socio-economics pressures. Climate projections for the future suggest favourable conditions for some wine producing regions, but challenging conditions for others. For instance, temperature increases are likely to shift grapevine phenology, ripening and harvest dates, and potentially affect grape quality and yield. Season variability is a prominent factor in driving grapevine response, the variability compelled by extreme out of the ordinary climate events such as extreme wind, rainfall or higher temperatures earlier in growing season and ripening period, confirming the unpredictability of seasons predicted in the context of climate change. TerraClim combines high resolution terrain data with weather station data (sourced from several data providers) to model climatic conditions within a vineyard. The TerraClim climate database allows for dynamic mapping, statistical interrogation, data mining, machine learning and climate change analyses over time and space. The TerraClim initiative has a strong research and development drive that involves continuously updating and extending the climate and terrain databases, automated data collection, interpolation protocol development, as well as the extension of existing logger and weather station networks. The developed technology is novel and scalable to other regions. As proof of concept, the TerraClim webapp (www.terraclim.co.za) presents high temporal and spatial resolution maps of climatic and geographic datasets as a series of dynamic near-real time map layers. Feedback from the agricultural sector (particularly the wine and fruit industries) in response to the proof-of-concept was overwhelmingly positive. The webapp includes an interactive vineyard profiling tool, query functionality and crop/cultivar suitability analysis. TerraClim allows users to obtain pertinent information about climate, terrain and soils to aid long- and short-term agricultural decision-making.
Author: Tara Southey
Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Stellenbosch, Matieland, South Africa