[ASC-media] Media release: beating the wine glut

JCA Media jcamedia at starclass.com.au
Wed Aug 11 22:55:53 EST 2004

Sir Mark Oliphant Conferences 2004 Media Release

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Smart sensing technology may be all that stands between Australia's winegrape industry and a looming glut brought on by massive increases in vineyard plantings worldwide.

Precision viticulture is key to Australian wines continuing to build market share in the face of a global surplus and depressed prices, according to Professor David Lamb of the University of New England.

Sensing technology is now available - or arriving soon - to accurately predict grape quality in particular parts of the vineyard, Prof. Lamb will tell the 2004 Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Converging Technologies for Agriculture and Environment.

"This will enable growers to segment their crop, deliver a better product to increasingly demanding winemakers, get a higher return for it - and enable Australia to dominate the various price categories on the world market through sheer quality."

Satellite and airborne remote sensing can already help growers to map the grapevine canopy across the vineyard, with direct consequence for quality management.

Soil sensors are revealing the texture and variation of soils across the vineyard, and areas where the best quality grapes will grow, while water monitors are giving fingertip control over irrigation and keeping costs in check.

Prof. Lamb says his group is working on a new optical-electronic device to test grapes for quality in the paddock, providing an instant readout.

"This array of technologies will materially assist the expansion of the grapegrowing industry into Australia's cool climate regions, where the best quality is to be had.

"Coupled with advances in frost risk assessment and prevention, this should enable Australia to hold its own on quality even if a world grape surplus eventuates."

Professor Lamb will speak at the conference at 2pm today, Thursday August 12, 2004.

The 2004 Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Converging Technologies for Agriculture and Environment takes place between August 9-12 at the Duxton Hotel, 328 Flinders Street, Melbourne, and various research sites.

More information:
Prof David Lamb, University of New England, 0428 886 088

At the conference:
c/- Duxton Hotel, Melbourne, 03 9250 1888
or Richard Gill, CRC for Microtechnology, 0417 477 244      richard.g at microtechnologycrc.com

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