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Robot tractors, an army of drones and virtual reality farm simulations can be expected to explode into the Adelaide Showground for the inaugural AdvanceAg AgTech showcase aimed at nudging SA’s farms to the next evolution of on-farm technology.

Normally at this time of year, Riverland Wine is building a register of growers with grapes to sell. This year there have not been enough grapes to build the register! It seems there is a ‘crushing’ demand! However, if you do have any grapes left over, don’t hesitate to call Kate. It’s very likely we’ll be able to place them quickly, at no cost to members. If we can’t we will certainly circulate the details to all SA wineries that crush a reasonable volume, who may be looking for supply. Call Kate on 0456 845 817 or email.

These days competitive and crowded wine markets can prove to be a tough nut to crack. Especially if you are a boutique wine producer, with budget constraints, using unknown wine fruit varieties, and with a regionality that is not ‘high-brow’ in conservative wine circles.

When Riverland Wine Members met last week to focus on the future. They were each invited to jot down their three ‘top of mind’ sentiments. The responses were many and varied but the core theme was one of concern for the entire community of the Murray-Darling Basin. There was discussion about particular aspects of water policy. Many were cautious but the words ‘climate change’ were uttered. Some, at Loxton in particular found themselves drawn into talk of prices and the security of long term contracts versus the benefits of being free agents and able to explore ‘value-chain’ opportunities rather than persevere with the ‘supply-chain’ model. But the prevailing sentiment was one of concern for the future of entire communities if soaking rains do not eventuate in time to replenish storages before the new irrigation year.

The South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) has created a series of handy Work Health & Safety tips for wineries and growers.

If Powdery Mildew was Polio or Tuberculosis we would have eradicated it from grape vines decades ago! So now we get to the good (challenging) part of this story. Peter Magarey is one of the (very) few plant pathologists specialising in grape vines still practicing in regional Australia and he’s right here in the Riverland. Peter has played a key role in the CropWatch story for 25 years and despite advancing Parkinson’s Disease he is still the chief author. It is Peter that we all turn to for an interpretation of almost any weather event during the growing season. It is only through his determination to continuously improved the service that the recent features have been developed around GrowCare and especially the new ‘mobile-phone-connect’ feature.

This may seem a little ‘dry’ but read on. History is important when mapping futures.

In 1970, research on grapevine downy mildew in the Riverland began in Loxton. From 1970-75, the Department of Agriculture’s plant pathologist Peter Dry began investigating the conditions favouring disease. With others from 1976, began what turned into a 50-year investigation into improved management of downy mildew in Australian vineyards.

From all reports in the past week, demand for Riverland Winegrapes is STRONG; so strong in fact it’s been very hard to get any grapes listed on the Grapes for Sale Register, a far cry from the days when the register would open in January with more than 10,000 tonnes and peak in late February with as many as 25,000. Following last week’s publication of Kingston Estate Wines prices, there has been a flurry of activity among willing buyers and willing sellers with uncontracted fruit for 2020.

The first two weeks of 2020 have been flat chat for most growers and winemakers as preparations continue towards an uncertain harvest; uncertain because of the unknowns with very few price offers finalised and yield predictions all over the place, partly due to recent hot weather but more so because of the stress and strain over water. Imagine if we didn’t have 100%. That’s very much on the cards for 2020.

The private carryover policy came into effect in the 2019-20 water use year and the NRM Board has heard that amendments could be made to improve its effectiveness.

The 2019 River Murray water allocation plan incorporated an updated private carryover policy as a drought management measure and changes are proposed so that carryover can be rolled over from one year to the next in a series of dry years instead of being lost if allocations reach 100 per cent.

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