Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Weeding Out Better Wines

Date:
December 18, 2000
Source:
Adelaide University
Summary:
Australian winemakers are known worldwide for the high quality of their wines and the lack of contaminants in them. Adelaide University researchers are ensuring that the reputation of Australian wines remains high with a project to develop techniques of vineyard weeding that dispense with herbicides and pesticides.

Australian red and white wines are about to become greener.

The nation's agriculture relies a good deal on its clean reputation. Thelack of residual pesticides, herbicides and other pollutants has givenAustralia's food a high international standing, and a very valuable onecommercially.

It's a reputation that needs constant vigilance. As Australianproducers are increasingly aware, one contamination scare would do theirfood export trade a great deal of damage. In the wine industry, itcould be devastating.

Already, a giant UK supermarket chain is questioning Australia's biggestwine producers about their use of herbicides that are known tocontaminate ground water. Their wines are tested for such contaminantscontinually, but even anecdotal evidence of such herbicide use couldcause significant damage to exports.

In that climate, alternatives to chemical pest control appear veryattractive. Mr Chris Penfold, a Research Officer with AdelaideUniversity’s Department of Agronomy & Farming Systems at the Roseworthycampus is about to begin a comprehensive study of organic weed controlin vineyards.

Funded by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, andsupported by several local industries and a Californian equipmentsupplier, the project should produce valuable information on how tocontrol vineyard weeds without the use of chemicals. "Not all weeds are bad," says Mr Penfold, "but some might introducedisease to the vines, or act as habitat for insect and other pests. Mostly they simply compete with the crop."

A number of weed control measures will be trialled, he says.

"Cultivation is an obvious one, but cultivation can cause problems bybreaking down the structure of the soil and exposing it to wind andwater erosion. We will be looking at carefully timed cultivation withdifferent implements, along with several other techniques."

These include "flame weeding", where a tractor-mounted device, fuelledby gas, heats the weeds to the point where their cell walls rupture. The use of flame weeding depends on the weed species present andmanagement aims. The gas supplier, Kleenheat, will supply gas andequipment for these trials.

Mr Penfold will also investigate mulching vines, but even that techniquehas variables that must be tested separately.

"There has been quite a bit done already on mulching," says Mr Penfold,"but mainly to improve vine vigour and productivity while simultaneouslyreducing evaporation losses. Now we will see what it can do for weedcontrol.

"Cereal straw mulch has commonly been used on vines, but as itdecomposes it can compromise nitrogen availability. Other concerns arethat it provides a habitat for mice, which then attracts snakes andendangers vineyard workers," he says.

The project will experiment with compost mulching, using mulch donatedby Jeffries Soils and Peat’s Soil.

As well as tending their vines, vineyard managers must also deal withthe 70% of vineyard space that lies between the vine rows. These areasrequire treatments different from those applied to the rows.

"Some weeds in these areas can even be beneficial," says Mr Penfold. "They may help to fix nitrogen in the soil, soak up surplus water oreven provide a habitat for predatory insects that prey on pest insectspecies and reduce their numbers."

The project will begin in the new year. Mr Penfold hopes that it willmake a significant contribution to agricultural practice.

"In the long term, vineyard managers will need to have alternatives toherbicides in controlling weeds, and for organic growers, a wider rangeof strategies than are currently available will enhance the value oftheir production systems," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Adelaide University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Adelaide University. "Weeding Out Better Wines." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001126194550.htm>.
Adelaide University. (2000, December 18). Weeding Out Better Wines. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001126194550.htm
Adelaide University. "Weeding Out Better Wines." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001126194550.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) A fox attacked a second-grade boy at a Connecticut elementary school Monday. It also attacked two school staff members and a woman and her dog. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo and jumped into the animal's enclosure on Tuesday, a spokesman said. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins