Using native habitat to boost the populations of insect predators in South Australian vineyards is the aim behind a new initiative.
The EcoVineyards Program incorporates native insectary plants to create biodiverse ecosystems in and around vineyards. The two-year program involves 24 grape growers from eight major wine regions including Kimbolton Wines’ Brad Case and Nicole Clark.
The Wine Grape Council of SA is leading the initiative in partnership with Retallack Viticulture, after receiving grant funding through the federal government’s national Landcare Program.
Wine Grape Council of SA business manager Lisa Bennier said the program was designed to strengthen the wine regions of SA.
“We’re rolling out 24 tailored native insectary demonstration sites in collaboration with our carefully selected EcoGrowers,” she said.
“We aim to demonstrate that increasing the resilience of our vineyards naturally will in the long term save growers time and money through reduced reliance on chemical pesticides and improved soil conditions. The program also has the potential to provide tourism benefits to the wine regions through the aesthetic impact the native plants will have when positioned alongside our world-class vines.”
Dr Retallack said the program would provide valuable habitats for good bugs and microbats, which feed on economically damaging insect pests including light brown apple moth, which causes an estimated $18 million damage to fruit each year and predisposes berries to botrytis and other bunch moulds, costing a further $52 million.
“This is all about building resilience into our production systems, and not having to intervene by using chemicals in the vineyard on a regular basis,” she said.
The Wine Grape Council of SA will host a series of workshops for the selected EcoGrowers and other grape growers keen to learn more. The first workshop is taking place in McLaren Vale tomorrow.
“We have had an enormous amount of interest in the program as every industry globally looks at ways to reduce its environmental impacts,” Ms Bennier said.
19 November 2019 – The Advertiser
Paula Thompson, Regional Editor
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