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Turning up the heat on climate change

A key industry forum to be held next week (24 November) by the Barossa Viticultural Technical Group will look at how grapegrowers can alter their practices to reduce exposure to environmental risks linked to climate change. The forum will give growers the chance to put their heads together with SARDI’s leading Climate Risk Unit researchers Peter Hayman and Melissa Rebbeck. Dr Hayman says interest in the forum comes as the state industry strives to strengthen its reputation as a leader in innovation and quality and to contribute to the national wine industry target of $5 billion in annual domestic sales by 2010. Projections suggest that increased temperatures and reduced rainfall could impact on water availability, canopy management and fruit ripeness – impacting on yields, quality and profit. “A few years ago growers were asking, `is climate change really happening?’ Now they are asking `how can we adapt to deal with climate change?’” said Dr Hayman. “A sign of this move is the groundswell of support to access workshops and climate risk software.” SARDI viticulture researcher Dr Michael McCarthy said with the driest and hottest autumn on record, and well-above average October and November rainfall with recent flooding of the Gawler River, the topic of climate change was top of mind. “The idea behind this forum is to explore the interplay between climate and its impact on water availability and heat stress as it affects diseases, yields, and grape quality. “We will also pinpoint what adjustments to viticulture practices might be needed – like soil preparation and irrigation. “While there are lots of uncertainties with climate variability, the idea is to start thinking about the likely risks from climate change and adapt.” Dr McCarthy said a practical example could be that if climate change pointed to a greater chance of very heavy downpours in October, then growers would need to rethink the advantages of cultivating soils that could be prone to run-off. “There is a lot of myth and muck about climate change and this workshop will be an opportunity for growers to come up to speed with major developments.” McCarthy said the three-hour interactive forum was open to SA viticulturists for a door charge of $15 per person (including closing barbecue). The function will be held at the Yalumba Signature Cellar, Yalumba Winery, Angaston, from 3.50 to 6.30pm. RSVP Amanda Mader, : 0409 673 320



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