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Australia grape growers embark on long term pest management for vineyards

Published:  09 June, 2015

Australia's grape growers have signed deals for two consultancy projects to improve pest management in the country's vineyards.

Wine Grape Growers Australia has appointed agribusiness consultancy Ag Dynamics to prepare a strategic plan for long-tern biosecurity arrangements in Australian viticulture.

Ag Dynamics boss Stuart Pettigrew has 25 years of experience in working with agricultural businesses on pest and disease management, including vineyards and other crops. His CV includes time as a vineyard manager.

The second contract has gone to the Australian Wine Research Institute which will devise biosecurity operations to fulfill the industry's obligations to emergency pest response and deal with the national ramifications of endemic pest and disease management.

WGGA said the agencies had been chosen because of their strong technical expertise, national focus and extensive of experience in pest and disease management in Australia.

Executive director Lawrie Stanford said. "I am confident we have chosen two excellent organisations to help deliver these extremely important projects for the wine sector."

He said Pettigrew had "direct experience with the issues and realities facing grape growers".

Stanford added: "The AWRI's expertise in matters of viticulture pest and disease, its prominence in extension activities to vineyard operators and its acknowledged capacity in executing rapid responses to weather and disease events all recommended it to the task.

"A key feature of AWRI's tender was its ready-to-go industry knowledge and established industry networks across Australia.  All of these qualities ensure that growers will be engaged in biosecurity management activities that affect them."

AWRI's activities will be headed by Kerry DeGaris, a qualified viticulturist with 17 years' experience working in many grape growing regions of Australia.

WGGA chair Vic Patrick said: "At a time when profitability for wine grape growers is low, it is critical that industry organisations maintain policies and programmes that will protect vineyards from preventable threats."

The projects are being funded by voluntary contributions from a range of organisations with viticulture interests.