Chapter 34

Precision Viticulture

Geographical Information System

Geographical information system (GIS) is a technology that provides the means to collect and manage large volumes of geo-coded spatial data derived from a variety of sources. The capabilities of GIS are to accept input data, to serve as a clearing house for data, to store, retrieve, manipulate, analyze, overlay, and display these data based on the requirements of the user and to create both tabular and cartographic output which reflect these requirements. In a more generic sense, GIS is a software tool that allows users to create interactive queries, analyze the spatial information, edit data, maps, and present the results of all these operations. Geographic data contains not only the attribute being reported but also the spatial location of the attribute. Each measured variable from a vineyard that is georeferenced becomes a unique data layer that can be overlaid and visually and mathematically correlated or interpreted. This approach allows data to be input as separate themes (e.g., soil moisture, soil fertility, temperature, humidity, crop yield) and overlaid based on analysis requirements. The GIS software makes it possible to synthesize large amounts of different data, combining different layers of information to manage and retrieve the data in a more useful manner.

Components of Geographical Information System

Geographical information system (GIS) enables the user to input, manage, manipulate, analyze, and display geographically referenced data using a computerized system. To perform various operations with GIS, the components of GIS such as software, hardware, data, people and methods are essential.


GIS software provides the functions and tools needed to store, analyze, and display geographic information. Key software components are: (1) a database management system (DBMS); (2) tools for the input and manipulation of geographic information; (3) tools that support geographic query, analysis, and visualization; and (4) a graphical user interface (GUI) for easy access to tools. There are many different types of GIS software available with the most common being ArcGIS and MapInfo.


Hardware is the computer on which a geographical information system (GIS) operates. Today, GIS runs on a wide range of hardware types, from centralized computer servers to desktop computers used in stand-alone or networked configurations.


The most important component of a GIS is the data. Geographic data or spatial data and related tabular data can be collected in-house or bought from a commercial data provider. Spatial data can be in the form of a map/ remotely-sensed data such as satellite imagery and unmanned aerial vehicle photography. These data forms must be properly georeferenced (latitude/longitude).

Functions of Geographical Information System

General-purpose geographical information system software performs six major tasks such as input, manipulation, management, query, analysis, and data output.


The important input data for any geographical information system (GIS) is digitized maps, images, spatial data, and tabular data. The tabular data is generally typed on a computer using relational database management system software. Before geographic data can be used in a GIS it must be converted into a suitable digital format. The DBMS system can generate various objects such as index generation on data items, to speed up the information retrieval by a query.


Geographical information system (GIS) can store, maintain, distribute and update spatial data associated text data. The spatial data must be referenced to a geographic coordinate system (latitude/longitude). The tabular data associated with spatial data can be manipulated with help of data base management software.


For small GIS projects it may be sufficient to store geographic information as computer files. However, when data volumes become large and the number of users of the data becomes more than a few, it is advised to use a DBMS to help store, organize, and manage data. A DBMS is a database management software package to manage the integrated collection of database objects such as tables, indexes, query, and other procedures in a database.


The stored information either spatial data or associated tabular data can be retrieved with the help of Structured Query Language (SQL). Depending on the type of user interface, data can be queried using the SQL or a menu driven system can be used to retrieve map data. For example, you can begin to ask questions such as:


Geographical information system (GIS) really comes into their own when they are used to analyze geographic data. The processes of geographic analysis often called spatial analysis or geo-processing uses the geographic properties of features to look for patterns and trends, and to undertake “what if ” scenarios.

Data Output

Geographical information system (GIS) can provide hard copy maps, statistical summaries, modeling solutions and graphical display of maps for both spatial and tabular data. For many types of geographic operation the end result is best visualized as a map or graph.

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