Vineyard management encompasses all practices conducted in the vineyard associated with growing grapes and maintaining the vineyard resource. Managing an efficient vineyard in a sustainable way is essential to ensure that it remains viable in the longer term.
Wine Australia-funded research has focused on identifying environmentally sustainable inputs to viticulture and technologies that allow reductions in vineyard labour, without compromising grape quality.
Resources in this section will include information on efficient use of resources to maintain or improve Australian vineyards.
Vineyards are variable in both space and time
Temporal variation is primarily driven by climate and seasonal variation in weather. For example, cold periods at flowering or fruitset can reduce yield while warm temperatures at bud initiation will tend to increase next year’s yield (assuming there are no subsequent perturbations such as frost in the following season). As consequence, seasonal variation in yield and quality is inherently difficult to predict, which is why Wine Australia invests significantly in improved methods for yield estimation and fruit quality assessment.
Meanwhile, land is variable and therefore its productivity is too. For this reason, there is no such thing as a uniform vineyard and many vineyard attributes (soils, topography, vine vigour, yield, fruit composition) can be seen to be variable when the vineyard is under conventional uniform management.
The recent availability of Precision Viticulture tools (remote sensing, the global positioning system, geographical information systems, yield monitoring and mapping, and high resolution soil survey) now make it possible to better understand and manage this variability, whether the objective is to try to reduce it through the targeting of management inputs, or taking advantage of it through strategies such as selective harvesting and product streaming.
Wine Australia has been an active partner in research into spatial variability in vineyards and is currently supporting projects which seek to better enable growers and their advisers to measure, map and understand their variability, and understand the interaction between grape yield and quality. We also invest in research aimed at other aspects of vineyard management such as the use of cover crops and management of spray application.
Cover crops are grown for many reasons: to protect the soil, prevent erosion, suppress weeds and provide nutrition. They also support integrated pest management increasing soil biodiversity, and supporting pest predators providing a natural nutrient cycling to enhance soil and vine health.
Spray application is a critical activity for grape and wine businesses – spanning the issues of food safety, environmental stewardship community welfare and profitability.
Current research projects addressing vineyard management can be found under Strategy 5: Improving vineyard performance.
Using cover crops to control vigorous vine growth (2013)
Managing spatial variation in grapevine water requirements
Irrigation distribution uniformity
Optimising water resources under water-limiting conditions