GROWING native habitats could save the Australian wine industry up to $70 million a year in pest control.
The South Australian initiative will use native insectary plants to boost the population of insect predators in vineyards, which is expected to reduce reliance on chemical pesticides and also improve soil conditions.
The EcoVineyards Program will involve 24 wine grapegrowers across the eight major wine regions in SA.
The Wine Grape Council of South Australia is leading the initiative in partnership with Retallack Viticulture Pty Ltd after receiving funding through the Australian Government's National Landcare Program across the next two years.
WGCSA business manager Lisa Bennier said the EcoVineyards Program was designed to continue to strengthen and preserve the world-renowned wine regions of SA.
"We're excited to be leading the EcoVineyards Program and rolling out 24 tailored native insectary demonstration sites in collaboration with our carefully selected EcoGrowers," she said.
"We aim to demonstrate that increasing the resilience of our vines naturally will, in the long-term, save growers time and money through reduced reliance on chemical pesticides and improved soil conditions.
"The program has the potential to provide tourism benefits to the wine regions through the aesthetic impact the native plants will have when positioned alongside our world-class vines.
"This will provide the chance to tell our story and highlight South Australian regions' point of difference to other regions in the world."
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Retallack Viticulture managing director Mary Retallack said there were many benefits.
"The program will provide valuable habitats for good bugs and microbats, which feed on key pests including light brown apple moth, which causes an estimated $18 million damage to fruit each year and predisposes berries to Botrytis and other bunch moulds costing an additional $52 million," she said.
The WGCSA will host a series of workshops for the selected EcoGrowers and WGCSA grapegrowers who would like to learn more.
This will provide the chance to tell our story and highlight South Australian regions' point of difference to other regions in the world.
The free workshops kicked off in McLaren Vale today, with more to be held across the coming month at Langhorne Creek on November 15, Adelaide Hills on November 20, Barossa on November 21, Riverland on November 26, Coonawarra on November 28 and Clare on December 3, with registrations necessary.
Ms Bennier said it was likely the workshops would fill up quickly.
"We have had an enormous amount of interest in the program as every industry globally looks at ways to reduce its environmental impacts," she said.