Sarah Keough, Strathalbyn, has tonight been awarded a prestigious Nuffield Farming Scholarship for 2020.
With support from Wine Australia, Ms Keough will investigate new and emerging irrigation methods to reduce vineyards crop losses and sustain fruit quality during extreme heat events.
Announced at the Nuffield National Conference Awards Dinner in Brisbane, Ms Keough will receive a $30,000 bursary to travel the globe conducting innovative research into her chosen study topic.
As viticulturist at Bleasdale Vineyards and a member of the Langhorne Creek Grape and Wine Association, Ms Keough believes her study topic will be a valuable extension to existing work in the sector on reducing the impact of heat in vineyards.
She will use her scholarship to investigate new and emerging irrigation methods to reduce vineyard crop losses and sustain fruit quality during extreme heat events.
"A gradual increase in the number of days reaching 40 degrees has prompted growers to look at new approaches to reduce soil temperature and enable vines to endure prolonged heat stress. My Scholarship will seek to unearth more cost-effective and water efficient approaches for growers," Ms Keough said.
"While growers have seen great success by using undervine misters, low volume overhead sprinklers and misting fans, there is a need to look at more cost-effective and water-efficient alternatives. In particular, my research will look to unearth new technologies to better manage and improve irrigation scheduling."
Through her Nuffield Scholarship, Ms Keough will meet with water irrigation leaders in Israel, investigate innovative irrigation methods being used in semi-arid climates like Argentina, and visit America's Napa Valley, which is increasingly experiencing higher than average temperatures.
Nuffield's South Australian State Committee chairman and 2015 Scholar, Ben Haslett congratulated Ms Keough on her Scholarship, and her motivation to explore techniques that will allow producers to optimise production in high heat conditions.
"We applaud Sarah on a study focus that will benefit South Australia's world-class wine industry, as well as the state's broader agricultural industry. Weather affects all food and fibre production, so it's paramount we, as producers, can adapt by accessing new technologies and procedures," Mr Haslett said.
"With the generous support of her investor, Sarah is about to start the journey of a lifetime, as she travels the world researching one of the most prevalent issues facing her business and the businesses of other South Australian grape growers.
"We're excited for Sarah, and look forward to hearing about both the successes and challenges she experiences throughout her Nuffield journey."
The National Conference is Nuffield Australia's flagship event, providing a meeting point for Australian farmers and agricultural innovators to share their latest research findings with industry and to network with the broader agribusiness supply chain.
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