TerrAvion Offers Aerial Imaging to Help Vineyard Owners Assess Damage

The Valley Fire, which swept through Lake County as far south as Napa, left enormous devastation in its path. One of the few bright spots in the middle of this destruction was the generosity of the wine industry.

While most vineyards suffered little damage – and in some cases, many acted as a firebreak that slowed the fire’s spread – a handful of vineyards in southern Lake County were affected. To determine if their vines were burned, vineyard owners can drive from one vineyard block to the next, walk the individual rows, and manually count the vines that appear to been damaged – not necessarily the most efficient approach.

Enter TerrAvion. “Our mission is to serve growers,” said CEO Robert Morris whose company provides aerial imagery to farmers across California, Washington, Oregon, and Chile. Typically, TerrAvion provides growers with weekly images that offer clients a wealth of data about their fields. Images include Natural Color, Color Infra-Red, NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), Thermal and Oblique layers, each offering a different perspective designed to help growers better understand what’s going on in the field. Growers can use this information to assess the health of their plants, decide when to water, and make other adjustments.

In the aftermath of the Valley Fire, Morris realized there was an opportunity to give something back to the farming community he serves, and he put out the word that his crew would provide free imaging for Lake County farmers who were concerned their vines had been damaged.

NDVI, which Morris calls “the gold standard for chlorophyll index,” is generally helpful to farmers as a way to measure the degree of stress in their fields. In this case, NDVI imagery can help farmers accurately determine which vines were burned and killed and which ones are still alive. The presence of chlorophyll is an indication that a vine is still living.

Images taken from 7,500 feet above ground are provided electronically to growers, who can view them on a computer or iPad. This service allows growers to precisely identify which vineyards, which blocks or rows, and even which vines might need to be replaced. They can then use this information for insurance claims, planning, and remediation.

So far, TerrAvion has helped several grapegrowers assess vineyard damage. Rather than waiting weeks or even months to fully assess the impact, growers now know immediately the scope of damage, thanks to TerrAvion’s assistance.

TerrAvion is providing imagery for a limited time; interested growers may contact pilot Bob Westbrook to make arrangements, 415-812-7543, or mailto:bwestbrook@terravion.com.

TerrAvioin aerial image after Valley Fire

Aerial shot of vineyards and surrounding countryside in Lake County after the Valley Fire.

TerrAvion pilots and plane (photo by Nathan DeHart)

TerrAvion pilots preparing to assess status of vineyards in Lake County.


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