Home' Grower : Dec 2011-Jan 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower – December 2011/January 2012
McLaren Vale field day offers advice for
❏ By JACINTA ROSE
GRAPEGROWERS from across the
Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills and
Langhorne Creek flocked to McLaren
Vale for the Practical Viticulture Growers’
Field Day, which boasted a program of
informative presentations and vineyard
Designed to provide useful, simple-to-under-
stand advice to growers from across the three
regions, presentations covered a variety of top-
ics and encouraged audience interaction.
University of Adelaide PhD student Luke
Johnston discussed in detail two studies he
has been involved in, comparing the impact
of conventional, biodynamic and organic
viticulture on soil and vine health.
In one study, soil carbon and microbial
activity were compared in conventional and
organic vineyards in the Adelaide Hills,
Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.
“Depending on the weed control, organic
practices can improve the biological and
chemical properties of the soil over time but
when cultivation is used no differences were
found,” Mr Johnston said.
“We’re emphasising the importance of
thinking about our weed control.
“In the right conditions, obviously with a
higher rainfall, growers should be encourag-
ing that undervine growth to improve the
physical structure of the soil.”
His other study aims to uncover where the
benefits in soil health associated with organ-
ic and biodynamic practices come from.
“We know from past research that organic
and biodynamic practices have improved the
biological and physical characteristics of the
soil, but we weren’t sure if that was a direct
result of using compost or whether it was a
result of those systems,“ he said.
While the results are unclear at the halfway
point of the six-year study, Mr Johnston was
confident that the final three years would
yield more revealing results.
Building on the organic viticulture theme,
SOIL, VINE HEALTH
■ Mid-row pastures ideal
■ Mulching promotes microbes
■ Spray regulations tightened
☛ AT A GLANCE
Peter Constantine and
Russell Elsworth from
enjoyed the vineyard
Adelaide University PhD
student Luke Johnston
talked business with Andrew
Johnston from Pirramimma
and Geoff Johnston Wines.
The SprayPro R Series sprayer was put
through its paces in a McLaren Vale
vineyard as part of the demonstration
Aaron Gowling and Patrick Lawlor were
keen to observe undervine mowers at work
as part of the demonstration program.
Tanya Liddell from MEA, Retallack Viticulture
managing director Mary Retallack, Sonja Vanwegen
from MEA and Scott Krix from Onkaparinga Hills.
Wayne Pittaway, Chris Harrington and Ray Guerin (right), representing Shaw and
Smith, caught up with Paul Hotker from Bleasdale at Langhorne Creek.
University of Adelaide research officer Chris
Penfold weighed up the costs and benefits
of a range of non-chemical weed control
Mr Penfold said having permanent living
ground cover in the mid-rows was the best
option to increase microbe numbers as pas-
tures have very high microbe activity and
biodiversity levels and this helps improve
soil structure and density.
He said using mulch could help cool soils
and provide a habitat for beneficial microbes
but operators should weigh-up potential
benefits against costs.
Services consultant Alison MacGregor
advised growers not to lose sight of the
basics in the pursuit of improved spray sys-
New regulations put in place by the
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary
Medicines Authority and aimed at reducing
spray drift will force many growers to alter
their spraying methods. Ms MacGregor
advised growers to hunt for chemicals with
fewer restrictions as these could be applied
Under the new regulations, growers must
keep extensive records of spraying activities
for two years.
The field day program also boasted an
afternoon of machinery demonstrations,
including Bertoni and SprayPro recycling
sprayers, and machines from Clemens,
Fischer, Ledgard and Pellenc for controlling
growth under the vines and in the mid-
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