To evaluate the potential of non-GM mildew resistant grapevines and new rootstock-scion combinations, grown at different plant densities, to reduce vineyard inputs and the overall vineyard carbon footprint.
Prior grapevine breeding programs have developed grapevines which are mildew resistant and rootstocks that reduce scion vigour. Use of these will reduce vineyard inputs in terms of chemical use and in labour and fuel to apply the chemicals and to control plant vigour. Also available is a new grapevine form derived from a microvine breeding program that is non GM, mildew resistant and has the capacity to self-prune as the canes do not lignify. This characteristic lends itself to reduced pruning requirements, thus less physical and mechanical intervention in the vineyard and its compact growth habit also provides other production advantages such as use in high-density vineyard plantings.
With a global focus on climate change preparedness and a shift towards reduced greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, it is timely to evaluate vineyard operations and identify how newly developed planting material which require less sprays, less labour for pruning and less land use, can assist in this process.
A high density vineyard field trial will be established in the Barossa Valley containing white and red mildew resistant vines, and mildew resistant microvines – all grown on own roots and grafted onto rootstocks of different vigour properties. Standard vineyard establishment methods will be used, except row and vine spacing will be considerably narrower, at 1.5m and 1.25m respectively. The high density planting will be compared to a standard vineyard planting. Field performance will be assessed over three years, through collection of data on grapevine physiology, maturity, yield, berry and wine quality. Input costs associated with fuel and water use will be collected to determine potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. All data will be used to identify the most efficient scion/rootstock combination in terms of inputs, greenhouse gas emissions and management intervention.
The knowledge generated through this project will assist grapegrowers and winemakers with decision making about new planting materials and strategies that can increase efficiencies, reduce vineyard inputs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide real cost savings in a future changed climate.