Wine Australia launches AUS$2.2 million biodiversity programme
Wine Australia has announced a three-year AUS$2.2 million regionally-based programme to support grape growers to plant cover crops, enhance soil health and increase biodiversity in vineyards.
Winegrowers from 10 regions across four Australian states are set to be involved in the programme. Resources provided will be region-specific, with an online information portal, 40 demonstration sites and on-the-ground support from local coordinators.
Dr Liz Waters, Wine Australia general manager of research, development and adoption, believes the biodiversity project will help winegrowers on both sustainable and economic grounds.
Australian wine has seen AUS$2.08 billion wiped off the value of exports over the last 12 months as the China tariff crisis continues, the latest stats have shown.
“The Australian grape and wine community is in the midst of a challenging period, but through this new initiative we’ll be providing regionally-specific and practical options for growers that will lead to improvements in sustainability and profitability,” she said.
“Extensive research has shown the value that planting cover crops and groundcovers has in the vineyard, particularly improving soil health and structure which provides a better foundation for grapevines. Biodiversity is also key to improving the resilience of our vineyards and can improve sustainability by minimising the need for pest and weed control, if you get the balance right.”
The three-year project is being delivered by Retallack Viticulture Pty Ltd, in consultation with behavioural scientists Evidn.
Dr Mary Retallack, managing director at Retallack Viticulture, believes the support could help grape growers save valuable time and money, by reducing the need for intervention.
According to Retallack, ecological restoration in vineyards provides habitat for beneficial fauna, bats and insect-eating birds, contributing to the control of insect pests in vineyards – one of the key practices used to combat the effects of climate change.
“It is possible to boost functional diversity by more than three times when native insectary plants are incorporated near grapevines,” she explained.
The project kicks off this month.