Keen to find sustainable solutions designed to protect its unique terroir, Château Montrose is announcing its partnership with EXXACT Robotics for the assessment of a new autonomous straddle tractor dedicated to high precision spraying. This partnership is part of the continuing global environmental approach undertaken by the Grand Cru Classé estate of Saint-Estèphe. The machine’s prototype will be presented to the press and the general public at the SITEVI Exhibition, as well as at World FIRA.
An intelligent autonomous straddle tractor: first test conclusive
Strongly of the view that the protection of the vineyard involves turning to precision agriculture technologies, Château Montrose tested the autonomous straddle tractor developed by EXXACT Robotics, the subsidiary of the EXEL Industries group dedicated to robotics and new technologies, during the growing season of 2021. The machine was used to work the soil. This initial test, carried out in collaboration with the estate’s R&D department, brought to light the many positive features of this autonomous straddle tractor: user- friendly, equally efficient as a traditional straddle tractor, reduced soil compaction due to its light weight (less than
1,500kg) but also less damage to vine shoots (30% less breakage), and better adjustment to slippery and technically complicated soil conditions. Improvements to autonomy and rate of forward speed are expected.
Machine to be unveiled at the SITEVI exhibition and World FIRA
The prototype of this intelligent autonomous vine straddle tractor – TRAXX – until now a closely guarded secret, will be unveiled on November 30th at the opening of the SITEVI exhibition at the Exhibition centre in Montpellier. The many attributes of TRAXX – lightweight, compact, suited to slopes and safe to use – will be explained in detail by its designer. The prototype will also be presented at the International Forum of Agricultural Robotics (World Fira) in Toulouse, from 7th to 9th December 2021.
Working towards a “ high-precision” sprayer: continuing tests next spring
Beyond the proven qualities of TRAXX, the main objective of both EXXACT Robotics and Montrose is to continue its development towards a high-precision spraying function. A second phase will be implemented at the Château in the spring of 2022. This time the autonomous straddle tractor will be equipped with the necessary components for “tailored” spraying. These tests will allow us to verify that it meets the expectations of Montrose. Increasing the windows of opportunity in the vineyard, day or night use including at week-ends, reducing the exposure of team members to spraying, improving the protection of the vineyard with
intervention made possible whatever the weather and soil conditions or reducing re-entry intervals which in turn will improve the succession of mechanised operations, are all highly important features for the technical team. The perspective is that of an intelligent tractor able to pilot a high-technology sprayer to perform tailored, accurate spraying, adjusted according to leaf area, presence of disease or plot sensitivity. Applying just the right dose, in the right place and at the right time, appears to be a sustainable solution to meet the current and future challenges facing viticulture, if its aim is to be respectful of both the environment and people.