Home' Grower : May 2010 Contents The South Australian Grower -- May 2010
Water / HAL
QUESTIONS continue to be
raised about the effect on
grape vines and fruit trees
caused by rising rootzone salinity
associated with the use of moderately
saline groundwater for irrigation.
In order to assist growers to
reduce the impact of salinity on
their vines and trees, the
Cooperative Research Centre for
Irrigation Futures has started
research projects managed by the
National Program for Sustainable
Irrigation to develop salinity
management strategies aimed at
ensuring production continues in a
NPSI program leader Guy Roth
said producers had a good
understanding of salinity, knowing
that excessive salt could affect plant
growth, yields and product quality.
"High salinity reduces the
capacity of roots to extract water
and can result in sodic soils with
poor structure," he said.
"In extreme situations the
structure can be so compromised
that water has difficulty percolating
much beyond the surface.
"This means that salinity has a
serious influence on sustainability and
knowing more about it and being
able to provide research data to
guide management practices makes
sense, particularly with the prospect
of water shortages continuing."
A three-year research project has
started in vineyards at Padthaway, in
the south east. This project aimed
to produce strategies to adapt
production systems to prevailing
and potential soil, water and
climatic conditions. Results of these
investigations would be useful in
other regions, crops and enterprises.
SARDI researchers Rob Stevens
and Tim Pitt are undertaking the
investigation with support from local
producers, including Orlando
Wyndham's Lawson's vineyard
manager Tim McCarthy. The
Lawson vineyard provides an
opportunity to quantify the effect of
10 years of drip irrigation on salt
accumulation and structural decline.
Comprehensive data collected by the
CSIRO during a rootstock trial in
the vineyard 10 years ago will allow
Salinity research has gained the
interest of a number of growers who
volunteered to participate in a salinity
monitoring network coordinated by
SARDI. The monitoring network
incorporates 14 sites through the five
sub-regions of the Limestone Coast
Wine Region. Monitoring is confined
to own-rooted cabernet sauvignon on
Growers are using solute samplers
to collect soil water samples ever y
two weeks to help determine trends
in salt movement and accumulation.
Other work to characterise salinity
in the region includes annual
petiole, juice and soil sampling.
Another part of the study is
designed to assess the role of
rainfall in determining soil
condition, applying various
treatments to make best use of
rainfall in moving salts away
from the rootzone. The
research involves use of the
Cornell Sprinkler Infiltrometer,
which simulates rainfall.
Mr Stevens said this type of
enquiry will ensure the right
treatments are assessed and that
effective management practices
"In this region, for example,
most water comes from the sky
rather than through the
drippers," he said.
"At this point in our inves-
tigation it appears that the rainfall
infiltration rate into sodic soils
under the vine row is the same as
that in the mid-row, which
suggests that treating sodicity --
and poor structure -- in the vine
row may not be a prerequisite for
improved salt leaching.
"If we did not have much
rainfall for several years, however,
and water supplies were more
saline and even more restricted, it
would be a different story."
Productivity rise to ease world food demand
THE world's population is predicted to reach 9
billion by 2050, and a growing middle class in
developing nations will place even greater
pressure on global food supply.
It is no surprise, therefore, that global food
security has become a red hot issue for the media
and governments worldwide.
In July 2009, at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy,
26 countries, including Australia, and 14
multilateral agencies endorsed the Joint
Statement on Global Food Security, which outlines
a coordinated approach to food security.
The supporting countries and agencies -- among
these the United Nations, World Bank and World
Trade Organisation -- agreed "to act with the scale
and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global
food security". They acknowledged that "the food
security agenda should focus on agriculture and
rural development by promoting sustainable
production, productivity and rural economic growth".
The productivity of food-producing industries,
such as horticulture, is now firmly part of the
international and national agendas.
In March 2010, the Agriculture Minister Tony
Burke raised the issue of global food security at
the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource
Economics Outlook Conference, noting that food
security is one of the "three biggest issues in the
world" along with climate change and the global
Australian Centre for International Agricultural
Research chief executive officer Nick Austin also
spoke on the need for a revolution in productivity
to deal with global food security.
"Population growth and constraints on food
production, including from the anticipated affects
of climate change and shifting supply and demand
patterns, must be balanced by improved
agricultural yields," he said.
For more than 20 years, Australia's horticultural
industries, along with other agricultural industries,
have been investing, through rural research and
development corporations such as Horticulture
Australia Limited, in sustainably improving their
Productivity increases in horticulture have been
achieved through developments across the
spectrum of agronomic practices such as soil
management, plant nutrition, tree management,
plant physiology, planting design and propagation
systems as well as through breeding programs
that have produced new higher yielding varieties.
Some examples of projects that have been
working towards increasing productivity include:
• Intensive growing systems which have been
developed in several industries, most notably
the apple industry. The system encourages
trees to produce commercial yields earlier and
reduce costs through creating a pedestrian
orchard by employ a combination of using
dwarfing rootstock, closer plantings, minimised
pruning to encourage the tree to fruit earlier
and limb training to remove vigour from the
• An avocado project aiming to improve yield and
quality in avocado through disease
• A cherry project that will improve marketable
yield of premium quality cherries by providing
an understanding of factors influencing fruit
cracking. The findings will lead to improved
orchard management practices that mitigate
yield loss associated with rain-induced cracking.
Details: HAL horticulture.com.au
Three-year project under way
Study to provide grower
Widespread applications likely
AT A GLANCE
Food scarcity increasing
Nations band together
Horticulture plays vital role
AT A GLANCE
Horticulture has an important role to play in
easing the pressure on global food supply
through increasing productivity.
SARDI researcher Rob Stevens and Orlando Wyndham's Lawson's
vineyard manager Tim McCarthy, pictured with son George, are studying
the effects of rising rootzone salinity on vines.
Root development of strawberry plants.
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