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April (No. 495)


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A regional approach to environmental stewardship through EMS, in Langhorne Creek

Rick Trezona , URS Australia Pty Ltd

Rick Trezona, project officer for the Environmental Management in Viticulture, Langhorne Creek, was a guest speaker at the Third Australian Wine Industry Environmental Conference held in Adelaide in February. With the three-year Environmental Management System (EMS) trial project now in its final stages Trezona has expanded on his presentation to the Conference by providing some observations on the experiences gained in Langhorne Creek.

Langhorne Creek has rapidly developed over the past 10 years to become one of the major premium winegrowing regions in South Australia. Irrigators at Langhorne Creek have been proactive in developing and monitoring irrigation management practices in the Angas Bremer Prescribed Wells Area. The Angas Bremer Code of Practice for managing irrigation has been introduced with an objective of 85% efficiency of water used (less than 15% of irrigated water passing the root zone). The code requires measurement of water passing through the zone, ground water monitoring, the establishment and/or maintenance of 2ha of non-irrigated deep-rooted perennial vegetation for every 100mL on licence and annual irrigation reporting. With a great deal of individual and community effort, the conditions of code have been met by irrigators with obvious aquifer and regional improvements.

In 2002 an opportunity became available for a number of Langhorne Creek vineyards to participate in the Murray Darling Basin Commission’s (MDBC) Watermark Environmental Stewardship trial to develop and introduce environmental stewardship into their irrigated viticulture operations. Similar trials under Watermark have been conducted in rice, cotton and dairy farming.

The trial has involved developing a regional framework for improving environmental stewardship offering tiered levels of recognition linked to the achievement of catchment targets. Being a variation from a traditional ISO14001 style Environmental Management System (EMS), the term Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) has been adopted for the Watermark trials. The program includes a methodology for assessing the environmental risks of viticultural activities, the determination of a series of environmental performance targets that individual growers can aspire to achieve, locally developed environmental standards, and seven performance and processed based steps or ‘levels’ designed to give recognition for participants’ efforts. Best Management Practices (BMPs) underpin the framework, and these were developed with the support of local Natural Resource Management (NRM) officers, and designed to achieve NRM/catchment outcomes. Environmental issues identified by the growers are addressed using these BMPs.

NOTE: The complete article can be found in the April issue of The Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker.

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