Requirements and challenges
The Greek pilot will focus on spraying table grape vineyards. Table grapes is an important product in the Mediterranean basin and indeed, the EU is the third larger producer of table grapes in the world after China and Turkey. Getting the quality level needed is not an easy task for table grape growers, since the crop has a short shelf life, supermarkets and consumers impose very high-quality standards and the fruit is highly sensitive to pests and diseases, with preventive and curative spraying to occupy most of the farmer’s effort throughout the season. As a result, table grapes need up to 30 applications of pesticide and foliar fertilizer each growing season. Pegasus is the largest exporter of table grapes in Greece, with an area of 150 ha and an average yield of 13 t/ha. Additionally, labour costs are high and access to workforce is difficult (10 experienced workers for spraying in Pegasus Agrifood Coop), especially when considering the limited time window available for the spraying applications.