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SA Central takes on a busy research program

11 Aug 2017
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There is a significant body of research work under way – and more to begin soon – across the SA Central region, with an even greater focus on collaboration.

McLaren Vale is leading a project to identify four 'focus' vineyards that can be used for knowledge sharing. The four will have different management practices (e.g. organic, conventional, low-input conventional and biodynamic) and be across different sub-areas, but will be of the same variety (e.g. Shiraz).

Grower visits will be scheduled at key times throughout the season to discuss topics that have been highlighted through their CropWatch service, such as Downy Mildew, snails and caltrop control.

‘The aim is to create a space where growers can get together to talk about key issues they are facing and potential solutions’, said Lian Jaensch, the Executive Officer for Langhorne Creek Grape and Wine.

In a similar vein, the annual Viti Innovation Day will be held for a fourth time, but this year will move from Langhorne Creek to the Adelaide Hills. This practical day allows growers to see first-hand what others are practising or trialling on their property, hear from invited experts, and watch machinery and supplies demonstrations.

Proposed topics include outcomes of the first wine trials investigating sooty mould, with an opportunity to taste bottled wine samples.

The Adelaide Hills region will report on two projects it has funded: Precision Viticulture trials applying sensors (proximal on ground as well as drone-mounted cameras) as a means of improving net wine value in vineyard blocks, and a study assessing the potential of autonomous lasers to deter birds.

In Langhorne Creek, they are extending a project looking at the potential to manage yield in Malbec by employing late pruning techniques to shift bud burst, reduce vigour and improve bud fruitfulness. Malbec is notorious for having highly variable yield and fruit set between seasons, and the results from an initial one-year trial were encouraging.

A new project will trial the release of predatory biological control agents in organic and conventional vineyards to control vine scale, which is an increasing problem across the region.

Expert opinion will be sought to determine whether a general drone release of beneficial insects, or controlled canopy cage releases, can be enabled to achieve best means for release, assessment, practicality and economic feasibility for a grower, depending on their vineyard footprint and circumstances.

‘Current chemical control options for scale in vineyards often are not suitable or don’t have great efficacy. We think it is worth investigating the potential for softer control options’

Lian Jaensch

There will be collaboration beyond the region as well, with SA Central looking to work with the Limestone Coast on trials seeking to determine whether broad acre knowledge can be used to control snails in vineyards.

Snails, both white and brown, are an ongoing problem and source of frustration, particularly in wetter years. Traditional practices of baiting can be expensive and time consuming.

Trials across SA Central will test better methods of bait control and/or softer options for vineyard control, looking at timing, types of treatment and potential biological responses.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.