1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?
I have been involved in grape growing for about 35 years. After studying Agricultural Science, I worked as a research officer with a large multinational chemical company for 8 years. Some of the work was in vineyards evaluating new chemistry for fungal disease and insect control – this was my first insight into an area of agriculture which would be an integral part of my future working life. Our family became grape growers in 1997 when we planted our first grapevines and I have been actively involved in the day to day running of the vineyard since then.
2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?
Visiting other vineyards involved in this project and seeing what they were doing made us aware of a sustainable approach to controlling insect pests within our own vineyard. As we are very conscious of the environment, we saw this project as a way of introducing native plant species to enhance the beneficial insect and bird populations within our vineyard.
3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?
A vineyard with an array of native species planted to enhance the population of beneficial organisms, there by negating the need to use insecticides.
4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?
Yes, this is the second area on our property we have planted to native species common to the local area. The first was planted on the western side of a paddock to act as a wind break and shelter for livestock and to enhance the biodiversity of native species on our property.
5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?
It is the way forward – we cannot continue to rely on expensive, manmade chemicals to control pests and diseases in agriculture at the expense of our environment.
6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new ‘normal’ for grape growers on their properties?
Grape growers will need to work together to grow fruit using more environmentally sustainable techniques. Water conservation will be of utmost importance, the use of beneficial organisms to predate insect pests, a reduction in the reliance of synthetic fertilizers and fungicides to control disease will be some of the techniques required to ensure the sustainability of the grape growing industry.