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Using data to inform vine management

RD&A News | February 2022
28 Feb 2022
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Marty Gallasch is a fourth generation grapegrower who produces premium fruit from his vineyard near Ebenezer in the north of Barossa Valley.

His property spans 60 hectares (ha) with nearly 30ha of predominantly A grade Shiraz and Grenache and another 20ha that will be developed over time. His vines range in age from two-year old plantings to heritage vines that are more than 100 years old.

Marty says the main challenges for the area have always been climatic. 

“We have lower rainfall and limited water supplies compared to many grape growing regions. We also contend with increased frost risks and managing diverse and inconsistent soils.”

To help address this, Marty is working in partnership with Wine Australia’s AgTech adoption program on a range of potential tech solutions.

Just recently, 12 CropX soil moisture probes were installed across his vineyard, and hyperspectral aerial imagery was undertaken to capture and better understand crop health. An Arable Mk2 weather station was also installed on his property.

The aim is to provide Marty and his family with the data they need to make informed decisions about irrigation, fertigation and crop management allowing them to track crop health through to harvest. 

“My intention is to use the information and insight gathered from the AgTech program to help me use my resources in the most efficient way,” Marty said.

“That may take the form of modified irrigation, nutrition and groundcover management programs or identifying necessary infrastructure upgrades. Time will tell.”

Marty said in a world with increasingly finite resources, the ability to do more with less in a sustainable and consistent manner was important – for any business.

“I am hopeful that the use of tech will allow me to run the business to its potential while also operating responsibly into the future.”

Marty’s message to other growers who may be hesitant to investigate AgTech solutions was to have an open mind.

“Have a look around your vineyard and look at all the indispensable tools, machinery, methods you have. Many of them didn’t exist 20, or even 10 years ago.

“Waiting for tech to become mainstream is not always the most productive way to run a property. And it can cost very little to look into new technology and new ideas.”

Wine Australia’s AgTech program connects growers to AgTech vendors, providing feedback to each other and ultimately ensuring successful outcomes for grapegrowers and winemakers. Marty’s vineyard will become a demonstration site and regional growers will be invited to visit the site, see the technology in action and ask any questions they have. 

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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.