Geo-enabling the UK’s sparkling wine industry

Land and real-estate agency Strutt & Parker is working with some of the world’s leading wine producers to help expand the production of sparkling wine in the South East of England. Using a solution based on ArcGIS Online called FarmView, it can rapidly identify the best sites for vineyards, taking into account a vast array of factors including soil type, terrain and climate.

Over 1,500% return on investment achieved by Kent office

A four-fold improvement in productivity for viticulture land agents

More successful grape crops due to better selection of land

“ Our ArcGIS solution has made us far more competitive and profitable, compared to other agencies

Edward Mansel Lewis – Senior Associate Director – Strutt & Parker

The Challenge

Subtle changes in the climate in England, caused by global warming, are creating ideal conditions for the production of sparkling wine. As a result, more and more wine producers are looking to acquire land in South East England to plant vineyards. The government is actively supporting the expansion of the British wine industry and has set a target for the total area of vineyards in the UK to exceed 3,000 hectares by 2020.

The land agency firm Strutt & Parker was commissioned by a major wine grower to identify land in Kent with precisely the right soil type, elevation, aspect weather patterns and slope for optimal grape cultivation. However, there was no single source of data that the organisation could turn to in order to assess the suitability of each available parcel of land. Agents needed to undertake research across multiple websites and data sources, interpret maps at different scales and manually generate reports for the client, which was extremely time consuming.

“ FarmView not only benefits our clients with an insightful and authoritative appraisal of a site’s value, but it has also significantly improved our own business processes, saving time and money

Nicholas Watson – Head of Land Management in the South East, Strutt & Parker

The Solution

Strutt & Parker discussed its challenges with Mapman, a digital mapping consultancy in Kent. One of Esri UK’s Startup programme partners, Mapman realised immediately that it could use Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution to build an app that would give land agents instant, 24/7 visibility of all of the data they needed, on a single interactive map.

Mapman used ArcGIS Online and authoritative data from the Ordnance Survey, Cranfield University, the Met Office and other open sources to create a viticulture app, which it named FarmView. “I have long experience of using ArcGIS and am very confident in it as a digital mapping platform,” says Pete Wain, Managing Director of Mapman. “It is very easy to deploy new applications and share data, plus it is scalable, resilient and has security built in. I wouldn’t have considered building FarmView with any other GIS system.”

Strutt & Parker jumped at the opportunity to become the first corporate user of FarmView. Using the ArcGIS Online solution, its land agents can select any parcel of land and click on it to see an immediate assessment of its soil, terrain and climate, indicating the land’s suitability for vineyards. Land agents can also apply a search function to see, in an instant, where suitable land exists across a specific region or county.

Significantly, Strutt & Parker can use the location intelligence of FarmView to create data-driven and branded reports, with embedded statistics, to send to clients. The thoroughness of the analysis facilitated by ArcGIS Online, and clarity of FarmView’s reports, makes it very easy for the organisation’s clients to understand the relative merits of different land parcels and make confident decisions about the suitability of the land.

“ I have long experience of using ArcGIS and am very confident in it as a digital mapping platform

Pete Wain – Managing Director – MapMan

The Benefits

Over 1500% return on investment
Since subscribing to the ArcGIS-based solution from Mapman, Strutt & Parker has been highly successful in winning new clients and orchestrating land sales, particularly in Kent. Edward Mansel Lewis, Senior Associate Director at Strutt & Parker, says, “The cost of FarmView was split equally between the Kent, Essex, Sussex and Surrey offices within our firm. Using billing figures from the Kent team, since the mapping platform was introduced, we calculate that we have made a return of 1,571% on this quarter share of the investment alone.”

“Extraordinary” time savings
If a farmer or landowner calls to discuss selling fields, Strutt & Parker agents can see within just three or four minutes if that particular land parcel is suitable for vines. “We can identify suitable sites in a quarter of the time that we would previously have spent on each project,” says Mansel Lewis. “FarmView allows us to see, in one picture, all of the features that will determine if a site is right for a vineyard or not. The amount of time that we save, as a result of this ArcGIS-based solution, is just extraordinary.”

Improved profitability and competitiveness
Using FarmView, Strutt & Parker has now built up a bank of several thousand acres of land suitable for vineyards, which gives it a massive competitive advantage over other agents, who might have to search for land on a case by case basis. “Our ArcGIS solution has made us far more competitive and profitable, compared to other agencies,” Mansel Lewis says. “After demonstrating our new mapping solution, we were fortunate enough to win a contract with the largest wine producer in the UK.”

Nicholas Watson, Head of Land Management in the South East for Strutt & Parker, adds, “FarmView not only benefits our clients with an insightful and authoritative appraisal of a site’s value, but it has also significantly improved our own business processes, saving time and money. FarmView is helping to further establish Strutt & Parker as the UK’s leading viticulture consultancy service.”

More successful wine production in the UK
Ultimately, it is Strutt & Parker’s clients who will benefit most, as they will purchase precisely the right kind of land to ensure their success. Mansel Lewis observes, “Our clients have been delighted with the sites that we have found for them using our new mapping platform. Over the course of the next few years, many new vineyards will appear throughout the Kent countryside and you can be sure that the majority of them will have been identified, in the first instance, using the ArcGIS capabilities in FarmView.”

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