Would you pay for a meal at the pub, but then walk out without eating it? Would you buy a heap of fertiliser, but then leave it in the shed and not use it? The above scenarios are similar to what is happening with much of the effort being directed through the Riverland Viticulture Technical Group (RVTG) in the investment of regional research and development (R&D) funds that come to the region. $2 from every tonne of wine grapes produced by growers across the nation is collected as a compulsory R&D levy, which is in turn matched by the federal government. A wise man once pointed out: “there is nothing that a grower does in their vineyard, whether it is spraying, fertilising, pruning or whatever – that has not been improved through R&D”.
The RVTG has been active in the past months finalising the current submission for another round of projects that will reinvest part of this R&D levy into projects that benefit and help growers across the Riverland region. Some may be familiar with these activities in the form of spray field days such as those held in recent times at Kingston Estate’s vineyards. Others may be aware of Know Your Numbers a web-based business tool. This, in particular, has had rave reviews from growers who have used it. Yet it seems that the uptake of many of these tools, as helpful as they can be, is low; attendance at field days has been OK; but not what would be possible in a region with over 1000 grape growers. This is despite the continued hard times in the industry and ongoing challenges for all industry participants to make a dollar.
This is confusing. After all – it is your grower levies that pay for the organising of field days and the trialling of different management techniques, the development of grower tools and fact sheets through the compulsory R&D levy. You may as well use them to see if they give you a benefit.