Restoring riparian sites in Barossa vineyards

A program to help Barossa growers learn strategies to enhance biodiversity in their properties by restoring riparian sizes and using native grasses to improve the overall health of the site was launched by the Barossa Grape & Wine Association in the last quarter of 2012.

The program, ‘Creating Resilient Landscapes in the Barossa’, included three one-day tours of Barossa and Eden Valley vineyards to see biodiversity in action. The initiative was coordinated by Eden Hall Wines vineyard manager and owner of Falkenberg Vineyard Daniel Falkenberg, BGWA viticultural development officer Nicki Robins, and Russell Johnstone of Winecycle. Funding was courtesy of the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board and GWRDC supported a number of earlier projects that have influenced its development.

‘Workshop participants visited properties, including Eden Hall, to learn the benefits of and how to establish native vegetation along riparian zones. We also focussed on how to establish and maintain perennial native grasses to enhance biodiversity in the vineyard, reducing costs and improving soil quality, water infiltration, and soil biota’, Daniel Falkenberg said.

As Nicki Robins observed, ‘it will become increasingly important because of our changing climate and the availability and cost of water for vineyards to move away from being a monoculture by planting several native grass species.

‘We are already seeing how some growers can reduce tractor time and irrigation requirements thanks to the low maintenance, drought-tolerant nature of native grasses’, she said.

‘Native grasses can take some expertise and patience to establish’, said Russell Johnstone, ‘but they look a picture when established, and are highly evolved over many years to prosper in the Australian landscape.

‘These grasses are perennial, require little nutrient and are well adapted to drought, so their growth habit is that they “switch off” when grapevines require moisture and nutrient for growth and ripening’, Russell said.

A network of 70 growers interested in improving vineyard biodiversity for various reasons has been created through the program.

‘Since the workshops, the group has been offered networking opportunities to ensure the opportunity for sharing ideas, results of trial work being done, and so that BGWA can provide resources and support’, Nicki said.

For more information contact Adrian Loschiavo, GWRDC Program Manager, adrian@gwrdc.com.au

Chris-Penfold-and-Dan-Falkenberg