Innovation in a Traditional Catalan Wine Company

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Tradition meets innovation in the beautiful Mediterranean landscapes of Catalonia. This autonomous region in the northeast of Spain is perhaps best known for the lively capital of Barcelona. But another thing that should come to mind is the cuisine. The Catalonians can be described as true bon vivants who love to eat well. The first documents containing information about the region’s gastronomy date back as far as the fifteenth century. Catalonia has developed a rich culinary tradition ever since, mainly featuring sea food, fish, ham, cheeses, olive oil and salt.

These meals do not arrive on the dinner table unaccompanied. Wines are equally important in Catalan cuisine. Catalonia includes some of Spain’s most important wine regions and is especially known for its cava, a sparkling wine.

Mas d’en Bosc
There are ten wine regions in Catalonia that are officially protected. For this interview, we went down to the picturesque little village of Vila-rodona, in the province of Tarragona. Surrounded by Cistercian monasteries, we found the vineyard of Mas d’en Bosc. It has been a mainstay of the area’s agriculture since the eighteenth century, a position that can only be maintained by daring to innovate.

Here, we met the specialists of Infraplan, a company specialized in geospatial information, founded in 2001. "We operate in different circles, such as the public sector, infrastructure, industry and agriculture," said Ricard Gonzalez Alzamura, Infraplan’s CEO. "We feel comfortable participating in innovative environments that benefit from our experience in capturing and processing geo-information."

One example of such an environment is Mas d’en Bosc, a traditional wine company that is getting ready to innovate.

Precision agriculture
The vineyards at Mas d’en Bosc are in need of renovation. The challenge for Infraplan is to introduce a whole new surveying method to monitor this project. "We’re implementing an agrarian infrastructure at Mas d’en Bosc. We are preparing platforms on which to plant new vines," said Oscar Quesada Carrasco, CCO at Infraplan.

"With any infrastructure implementation, either by road, railway or agriculture, you need to know the current conditions and document the evolution. That way, you can plan and monitor the project better, and you are prepared for the different transformations that may take place."

By mapping the conditions as they are and tracking the development from there, Infraplan puts their modern methods to good use. Quesada Carrasco said, "The aim is to improve the management of crops through the collection and analysis of data. This allows us to optimize the profitability of the investment and to preserve the available resources."

Quesada Carrasco walked us through the project. He said, "From the beginning of this project, we have conducted monthly flights to monitor the construction of the platforms. We control the geometry and the cubage of the land and we ensure that the construction is taking place according to the design’s guidelines.

"Once the vines are grown, we can take multi-hyper-stretched RGB images and we can generate maps with aerial images that differentiate between crops, stages of farming, and locations of areas with special needs. Examples of special needs could be, for instance, fumigation, more nutrients, and irrigation. Then we can take steps to correct and optimize the production for Mas d’en Bosc."

It is an inspiring take on "precision agriculture," similar to Cavazzini’s approach in their yield improvement project in Northern Italy. Which technology does Infraplan use to develop the new infrastructure?

`Inconceivable a few years ago’
The monthly flights with which the company gathers all that vital information from above are conducted using an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). "We use Sirius Pro because of the safety, the accuracy, and the speed of the photogrammetric operations," said Alzamura. "It offers possibilities that were inconceivable a few years ago."

"The Topcon MAVinci Desktop program allows us to program the flight, to upload the flight plan to the Sirius Pro and to control the execution from the laptop," said Quesada Carrasco. "It allows us to monitor quickly and smoothly. After landing, we can start processing the data the Sirius Pro has obtained. We then immediately start to generate the required products that we provide to the customer through Mapia Online."

Mapia Online is Infraplan’s digital platform, on which they provide geospatial information to their customers, further involving them in their projects. Quesada Carrasco said, "Integration with Topcon instruments allows us to share hundreds and thousands of images we captured with the drones."

"Before this technology came into play, it was not possible to take critical decisions this fast, this accurately and this easily," said Alzamura. "Today, all the technical staff of the vineyard are planning and doing their jobs based on a shared data model, in which all the required features are included."

And so the geospatial expertise of Infraplan has helped Mas d’en Bosc to prepare their vineyards for the future. Another wonderful way for tradition and innovation to meet, where the brand new practices of precision agriculture are followed by the good old clinking of the bon vivants’ glasses.

A 5.710Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE