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Water management workshops to help Renmark grapegrowers survive

The first of a series of ten regional workshops aimed at helping grape growers manage their way through the coming 2008 season will be held next week in the Riverland.

Water & Vine – Managing the Challenge, which will be launched at the Renmark Hotel on Friday August 29, is expected to attract several hundred local growers.

Part of a Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Irrigation Industries Workshop Program, Water & Vine has been developed to assist Murray Darling Basin grapegrowers survive what is expected to be one of the toughest summers in Australia’s history. Similar programs are being delivered to horticulture, dairy, cotton and rice growers.

The Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC), which is administering Water & Vine will be presenting four information modules to Riverland growers in August-September.

The first module Yield and Water will provide the latest information on the link between irrigation inputs and wine grape productivity, including influences on berry/wine quality.

The second module will provide water allocation scenarios for 2008–2009 based on climate change data from the CSIRO and the third module will take growers through a water budgeting and management tool developed by CCW for its growers last season. A technical user manual will be provided which can accompany the current excel spreadsheets, so that others can use the water purchase and budget tools in the future.

The final module will explore the grape supply outlook and explain some of the national and international influences on grape pricing and winery demand in 2008–2009.

GWRDC Water & Vine Project Manager Mark Krstic said the program acknowledged that many growers in irrigated regions faced an uncertain future due to the extended drought and reduced River Murray flows.

“Our role is to help Riverland growers make decisions about how they can manage their way through this crisis and remain viable,” he said.

“Growers need to know more about the exact water they need, how to access additional irrigation water and understand more about the allocation decision-making process.”

A unique part of the Water & Vine program will be engaging regional grower liaison officers, industry development officers, viticultural consultants and agribusiness advisers across the entire Murray Darling Basin in an Innovators Network that will assist in disseminating information to growers.

“The Innovators Network will be provided with free resources and the latest knowledge about drought management to help growers with critical viticultural and business management decisions. They will be trained in up to 11 drought management topics that have been developed for this project by the leading researchers, viticulturists and business managers in Australia,” Mark said.

The Renmark Water & Vine workshop will be followed by other Riverland grower workshops at the Berri Hotel on Wednesday September 3 and the Waikerie Hotel on Thursday September 4.

Growers should have already received direct mailed invitations to attend the workshops but for more information about Water & Vine contact the GWRDC Program Manager Mark Krstic on 0437 325 438 or email ">m. Alternatively visit the website waterandvine.gwrdc.com.au

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