Improving the Productivity of Tasmanian Vineyards
In June 2016, the Tasmanian Government announced funding support for a four-year research project to investigate opportunities to improve the predictability, stabilisation and overall increase in vineyard yields, in line with quality. This project is an initiative of Wine Tasmania, and we have partnered with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture to undertake this exciting project.
In looking at the opportunities and challenges confronting the wine sector, we have been growing, quite significantly, our area under vine. We have not, however, been growing our yields to the same proportion. In fact, the low 2014 vintage was just three times larger than the 1995 vintage nineteen years earlier, despite there being more than five times the vineyard area. Yes, we will continue to have vintage variability - we’re in a cool climate after all, and each year will bring something different. However, with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, which has undertaken some preliminary research in this area, we believe that viticultural practices and improved yield prediction can play a major role in increasing quality and stabilising yields.
The opportunity is to investigate ways to better predict, stabilise and improve yields, in line with the relationship and focus on quality. The proposal submitted to the Tasmanian Government is available here for reference and provides further details on the background, methodology, and targeted outcomes.
A dedicated page for all of the resources produced from the project can be found here.
The University of Tasmania, in collaboration with CSIRO, IBM and the Tasmanian government, has been awarded funding from the Federal Government to roll out the SenseT project. Sense-T is working with the viticulture and fruit industries on applications that help producers make better decisions based on access to real-time information that is provided in a user-friendly way.
The initial Sense-T project will develop a decision support tool to support disease management, minimise frost risk and reduce inputs. Sense-T will be deploying microclimate and other sensors in test vineyards and orchards as well as drawing data collected from government sources.
Both fruit, and viticulture are susceptible to damage from frost, fire and pests. Orchardists and vineyard managers need to manage these risks and optimise resource use (such as water and fertilisers) for consistent yield and product quality. As local weather patterns shift with climate change, so will the risks. Growers need tools based on fine-scale integration of disease and weather data to constantly update predictions so as to optimise crop protection. Adapting to climate change in this way will not only reduce seasonal variability in crop yield and quality but will also help maintain export markets through demonstrated best practice.
More information can be found on the SenseT website - www.senset.org.au.
In April 2012 the Federal and State Governments made a joint announcement on funding for the Tasmanian wine sector. The Federal Government committed $400,000 from the Economic Diversification Package related to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement (TFA) and the State Government committed $220,000 for the following initiatives during 2012-14:
- A research study to identify the best frost-free sites for cool-climate wine production
- Continuation of the grape and wine Industry Development & Extension Officer resource
Working through the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), Richard Smart and Reuben Wells were contracted to undertake the research study.
Improving the Quality of Cool Climate Pinot Noir & Sparkling Wines
A major three year research project was undertaken during 2008-2012. This AUD$1.8 million project was funded by a Tasmanian-based consortium and AusIndustry’s Industry Cooperative Innovation Program (ICIP).
The ICIP research focused on the following key research programs, with more than 30 individual trials being undertaken, both small and commercial scale trials:
- Improving Pinot Noir quality by manipulating viticultural and winemaking techniques;
- Improving Sparkling Wine quality by manipulating viticultural and winemaking techniques; and
- Minimising spray drift and environmental contamination from vineyards.
Importantly, this project led to establishment of the Australian Wine Research Institute’s (AWRI) Tasmanian “node” and the full time employment of Dr Bob Dambergs. Tasmania was the first region to have a dedicated AWRI presence outside its South Australian base and is expected to continue to benefit from Dr Dambergs’ expertise, with funding now confirmed for his role to continue for a further three years.
The research has attracted a significant amount of global attention, with numerous presentations and media articles contributed, and links established with other Australian cool climate producers in the process. More than AUD$120,000 has been leveraged for related projects through the ARWI and Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture as a direct result of the ICIP project.
The ICIP research also led to Tasmania’s successful bid to host the 8th International Cool Climate Symposium, at which preliminary dissemination of the ICIP research results took place.
Consortium Members: Wine Tasmania, Australian Wine Research Institute, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, Tamar Ridge Estates, Croplands and Flextank.
Wine producer contributors: Frogmore Creek Wines, Meadowbank Estate, Moorilla, Tolpuddle Vineyard, Pooley Wines, Jansz Tasmania, Josef Chromy Wines, Winemaking Tasmania and Taltarni.
A detailed report on the ICIP research is now available here.
Eutypa dieback is a trunk disease of grapevines that causes yield reductions, gradual grapevine decline and eventually death. Eutypa dieback is caused by the fungus, Eutypa lata and is found in cool climate wine regions throughout the world. Eutypa dieback is one of Australia’s most important grapevine trunk diseases. Refer Eutypa Final Report I.pdf
Vine Balance, Winter Pruning and Wine Quality
Tasmania is regarded as having one of the best climates in the world for producing premium quality Pinot Noir table and sparkling wines. At present average yields are around 5 tonnes per hectare with quite a wide range. However there is a considerable body of opinion that this could be increased significantly to still produce fruit and wine of acceptable quality but with much improved economic returns. A demonstration trial was set up to be the focus of an industry field day, aiming to “push the limits” in terms of bud numbers, and consequently yield per hectare, and to determine the effects on fruit and wine characteristics. Follow links to the Pruning Trial Final Report, Appendix 1 Pruning Trial Raw Data & Means (Excel) and Appendix 2 Pruning Trial Photos