The Murray Valley Regional Program is going hi-tech with the development of two apps to support growers.
The first app aims to provide growers with real-time, localised disease control alerts and strategies; while the second app will assist growers with irrigation scheduling and budgeting.
The Vine Disease Alert System aims to deliver information directly to growers in a form that is simple, timely and easy to manage.
‘A beta version of the app will be available during the 2020–21 season. We will then undertake a period of ground-truthing and refinement based on the feedback of growers during the season,’ said Paul Derrico, Executive Officer of Murray Valley Winegrowers Inc.
A final version of the app is expected to be available for the beginning of the 2021–22 season.
The roll out of the app will be driven by accompanying extension activities, a forum to demonstrate the system and accompanying fact sheet and publicity through the Murray Valley Winegrowers website.
The second app, an irrigation scheduling and budgeting app, aims to provide growers with daily recommendations regarding water applications.
It is part of a research project led by Dr Vinay Pagay, a lecturer in viticulture and vineyard engineering at the University of Adelaide, who is developing a tool that will allow growers to schedule irrigation precisely based on real-time measurements of vine water status in conjunction with UAV-based remote sensing.
The app will be supported by data provided by the Murray Valley Winegrowers Weather Station network, which consists of 11 units in the Murray Darling and Swan Hill regions.
Murray Valley also has a number of innovative projects slated, including a project to raise awareness of the opportunities presented by warm region grape varieties.
‘Many traditional varieties sourced from warm regions in Spain, Portugal and Italy have recently shown great promise under the Murray Valley’s warm growing conditions,’ said Paul. ‘While production is currently very limited, the resultant wines have been very well regarded, including in wine shows.’
Paul said the next step was to take a strategic approach and raise the awareness of the opportunities of the varieties to the region’s stakeholders, including growers and larger wineries.
‘We aim to hold a seminar for stakeholders with presentations from a range of growers and winemakers with experience with the varieties. This will also include comparative wine tastings.’
This activity will be coordinated with Riverland Wines, with similar programs being run sequentially in both regions.
In other activities:
Sustainable Wine Growing Australia regional workshops
A series of four Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) workshops will be rolled out across the Murray Valley in the next 12 months. The workshops will focus on the SWA program and sustainable management practices such as soil health, water, and integrated pest management.
Vine health workshop
Pest and disease pressures remain constant in the Murray Valley and growers require ongoing updates on changes to agrochemical registrations, control strategies and spray practices. An annual workshop/video conference or series of webinars to update growers is proposed.
Building resilience to drought and a water constrained future
The prolonged drought across much of south eastern Australia has resulted in a much smaller annual harvest than has been observed for more than a decade. The ongoing low inflows into the Murray Darling Basin will mean that growers will be faced with production pressures for growing seasons in future years. Activities will focus on workshops that can assist grape growers and winemakers manage with reduced water and adapt to a water constrained future.