Irrigation and water research to boost Australian grape growing

Irrigation and water research to boost Australian grape growing

New research into Australia’s water resources is expected to benefit grape growers in Queensland and South Australia. From irrigation scheduling to soil and water source testing, Australia’s wine industry is focussing on improving production and efficiency.

Studies from the Limestone Coast’s 2014-15 Regional Program, funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA), are contributing further insights on how soil diversity can impact on wine quality.

Limestone Coast Grape & Wine Council Executive Officer Ulrich Grey-Smith explained that the research group had already visited the Margaret River and Perth. Next month, the study would move into Adelaide, according to an August 8 media release from the AGWA.

“The ultimate aim is for the stewards to use and share this accumulated knowledge and to help devise a sustainable soil management strategy for the whole region,” Mr Grey-Smith explained.

The importance of correct irrigation techniques was the key message conveyed by Irrigation Management Training Principal Noel Johnston at a water budgeting seminar held in South Australia in June this year.

According to Mr Johnston, scheduling is the key to achieving the most efficient irrigation processes. By determining the right frequency and duration of watering, grape growers can prevent drainage into ground water, stop the wastage of fertiliser, minimise land degradation and increase water conservation efforts.

“It can save you a substantial amount of money in the long term and assist growers in becoming more environmentally-friendly, which is an important thing in today’s society,” Mr Johnston said at the event, as reported by industry magazine Grapegrower & Winemaker.

Farmers in other states are also being encouraged to schedule their irrigation patterns, with the University of Southern Queensland’s National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) for instance promoting the practice.

NCEA deputy director Erik Schmidt has welcomed an $89,000 funding boost to develop and promote technologies that can help with water and irrigation management.

“Scheduling irrigations to match volume of water applied with the crop water requirement has been identified as a very simple method for reducing water loss through over-irrigation and for reducing energy wasted in pumping more water than necessary,” Mr Schmidt said.

For those grape growers relying on irrigation to support their vines, a Hydrosmart water conditioning system can help protect against common issues that come with irrigation. Hydrosmart solves irrigation salinity issues across a range of agricultural applications without the use of salty reject streams, or chemicals. By installing this electronic water conditioning system, vine growers across the country have shown that soil is more easily managed, and irrigation is far less problematic than expected. Healthy growth of vines with Hydrosmart has been documented by agronomist Brett Irvine, as aired on the ABC TV series Landline recently.