A National Approach to Delivering Regional Outcomes
The Viticare program will increase the uptake of new technologies by encouraging greater levels of participation by the viticulture industry in setting priorities and also taking part in field evaluation, monitoring and reviews.
The CRCV commissioned a statistically based market survey of growers information needs and sources using interviews with growers in the Riverland (SA), Riverina (NSW) and Sunraysia (Vic/NSW). CRCV Technical Applications Manager, Ian Atkinson, said "This study was critical to our extension and communications planning for the major grape production regions." You can download a copy here [1.3 Mb PDF file].
As there have been few studies into the adoption of Precision Viticulture Technologies (PVT) in the Australian wine grape industry, the Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture (CRCV) conducted this study by staff from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to identify the factors influencing the adoption of three PVT. The technologies are soil mapping (using EM38 to map soil characteristics), vigour mapping (using aerial reflectance data or plant cell density to map canopy density) and yield mapping (using load cells attached to a Global Positioning System and a machine harvester to map fruit yield). The study was conducted in the Yarra Valley, Sunraysia, Riverland and Coonawarra regions. You can download a copy here [1.0 Mb PDF File]
The Viticare team is working with existing regional industry groups and commercial service providers to facilitate this involvement.
Research and demonstration projects are being established within commercial vineyards for On-Farm Trials, field days and local awareness programs.
A core function of the Viticare Network is to ensure regular communication between regional groups via regular newsletters, email and field meetings. This network is strengthening the capacity of the CRCV to adapt its outcomes to address specific regional requirements.
A primary function of the Viticare initiative is to enhance producers' capacity to produce quality grapes while fostering the adoption of sustainable vineyard practices.
Viticare: Utilisation and application of research, commercialisation, links with users
Delivering CRCV technologies to the viticultural industry in an effective and efficient manner that is best suited to their needs is the major aim of the Viticare projects.
During the past year the Viticare program has undergone a number of major changes as a result of a program review that identified key extension strategies to take advantage of CRCV research and development outcomes during the next three years.
In response to the strategy, a new position for a Technical Applications Manager was created to manage the Viticare group, with the aim of expanding the program and delivering practical commercial applications for industry. In November, Ian Atkinson was appointed to this position and brought with him a wealth of experience in extension and with CRCs, having spent many years in the horticulture industry in various extension roles and working for the CRC for Molecular Plant Breeding in a business management and commercialisation role.
One of the changes to the Viticare program has been the move away from a limited 'official' network as a channel for extension and implementing change. However we hope the 25 groups that were members of the 'old' network continue to be involved in On Farm Trials and information exchange.
The impetus for this change was the need to deliver CRCV outcomes and information as broadly as possible in order to reach as much of the industry as possible. In order to achieve this goal a number of new initiatives have been introduced during the past year. With 62% of Australia's wine grape production coming from the Riverland, Sunraysia, Swan Hill and Riverina regions, these regions have been identified as pivotal for the new Viticare extension strategy.
Viticare staff have been working closely with the industry development officers in these areas, as these officers work with grapegrowers on a daily basis and have the ability to communicate CRCV research outcomes in a practical manner. This will continue to be a key part of the extension strategy over the next three years.
The new Viticare Trials project will start in August 2003 and will also focus on the major inland irrigated regions of Sunraysia, Riverland and Riverina. The trials will aim to ensure those involved become fully aware of CRCV and GWRDC research outcomes. They'll also be able to fine tune their viticultural practices for achieving a variety of outcomes including more efficient water use, quality and colour improvements and reduced chemical inputs for pest and disease management.
The trials will also take greater advantage of collaborative opportunities, including Viticare On Farm Trials (OFT) coordinators working closely with consultants and irrigation suppliers, as well as working with existing CRCV research projects such as the precision agriculture project.
The previous On Farm Trials projects finished in June 2003 and in three years the project helped 64 participants in a number of regions conduct vineyard trials. The project was essential in fine-tuning a model for working in commercial vineyards and introducing the concept of trials to a broad number of grape growers. Regional workshops were held to ensure the trial results and knowledge was shared to growers in the entire region and not just those growers that participated.
In the past year the Viticare team has been out on the road a number of times, attending key field days and seminars, including Clare Field Days, Riverland Irrigation Day and Mildura Field Days. A CRCV seminar series was conducted at the Mildura Field Days in collaboration with the Victorian and Murray Valley Winegrape Growers' Council.
The CRCV's book titled 'Growing Quality Grapes to Winery Specifications' was also launched at the Mildura Field Days. Published in conjunction with Winetitles, the book represented an enormous collaborative effort by CRCV researchers and industry collaborators and is a text book style book specifically for grapegrowers. It details the latest knowledge about wine grape quality and how this can be measured in the vineyard as well as management practices that can influence quality parameters such as sugar, pH and colour.
During the next year we will be presenting CRCV 'Talking Technology' workshops at WineTech 2003, attending the Riverland Field Days and other major industry events and field days.
The Viticare newsletter has continued to be delivered each month to more than 300 subscribers, containing practical information and case studies from the On Farm Trials project. Many of the subscribers are from regional associations and use the case studies in their own association newsletters. We have also introduced a CRCV Information Service that provides an email notice when the Viticare newsletter is available as well as news about CRCV extension activities and events.
A comprehensive commercialisation and intellectual property plan has been developed to cover the entire portfolio of CRCV research. An important component of this strategy is to ensure CRCV researchers are aware of intellectual property management and commercialisation issues. One workshop has been delivered to the CRCV's PhD researchers to introduce these concepts and more such workshops are planned for the coming year.
Viticare and Commercialisation Update [download (56kb Word Document)]