January 7, 2004
NEW TECHNOLOGY COULD ASSIST GRAPEGROWERS
WITH TWIN ISSUE OF SAVING WATER AND IMPROVING QUALITY
As the international and domestic wine
markets continue to tighten, the emphasis for South
Australian wine grape producers is to focus on quality
improvements. This aim however, has to be balanced with the
other major industry issue - the need to conserve limited
The current state of play has left many
grape growers looking for the answers to help them achieve
this twin issue of water and quality.
A new technology that has been
extensively used overseas in horticulture and viticulture
could provide the answers. Known as phytomonitoring, this
new precision agriculture technology is revolutionising the
manner in which crops - including wine grapes - are grown.
The phytomonitoring system enables
growers to fine-tune their irrigation practices and
production efficiency by providing a range of data that
comes from plant-sensing techniques, sampling rules,
measurement protocols, data interpretation and crop-specific
Originally pioneered in Israel by Israeli
and Russian scientists, the phytomonitoring system will be
fully explained and demonstrated to South Australian grape
growers, viticulturists and scientists at a free seminar in
the Barossa Valley on the 20th
of January, to be held
at the Fuller Communications Business & Marketing Centre on Basedow Road in Tanunda from 4-6pm.
Presenting the seminar will be Zohar Ben-ner,
a plant scientist with the Phytech company in Israel - the
pioneers of this technology - and Sam Plant from Australian
company Isis Phytomonitoring.
According to Sam the seminar will be
timely for viticulturists and grapegrowers, particularly
those either already using or considering the water-saving
irrigation technique partial rootzone drying (PRD).
"The water-saving benefits of PRD are
well-known, but most importantly this technique also provide
significant quality gains. The application of PRD however,
needs to be precise, and this is where phytomonitoring
provides benefits," Sam said.
"The system acts as a watchdog to make
sure any problems with the irrigation control equipment or
human error are detected. Because the system is constantly
measuring physiological changes in the grapevine, it
provides a lot of information to help growers correctly
Sam said the system had been
comprehensively trialed in Israel and was now being used
around the world by both research agencies and commercial
horticulture and viticulture producers. Countries currently
using phytomonitoring include Japan, Spain, Chile, China,
Netherlands, South Africa and Australia.
"Commercial users have found the system
to be pivotal in reducing water and fertiliser use and helps
them improve production efficiency and quality. It has also
been well-received by scientists who use the tool for
comparative examination of different treatments and
materials," Sam said.
"Although it is a highly sophisticated
system, it is easy to use and cost effective. It is
different to other existing systems because it doesn't just
measure crop performance but detects and evaluates stress
conditions in the crop by measuring a range of physiological
"This means it can detect disorders in
plants because the data collected warns growers ahead of
time of physiological disorders, allowing growers to act
quickly to avoid or limit losses to yield and quality."
Place and Role of Phytomonitoring in Viticulture
Free Information Seminar
Presented by: Sam Plant,
Isis Phytomonitoring and Zohar Ben-ner, Phytech Ltd
When: Tuesday 20th January
Where: Fuller Communications
Business & Marketing Centre, Basedow Road, Tanunda
RSVP: By Monday 19th to
Bridget Laucke on (08) 8563 0526 or email
Wine and light refreshments will
be served at the conclusion of the seminar.
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