Wildlife for wine

Supporting grape growers to create a balance between our environment and viticulture.

Our practice of land management is rapidly adapting to evolve with the changing environment. Modified landscapes are being challenged by nature’s need for balance and creating this balance is becoming an important role for humanity.

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges is partnering with grape growers and leading experts, to investigate on-farm trials to give growers new opportunities and ideas to achieve this balance. Some of these early trials include studies around local wildlife.

Supporting grape growers

The Wildlife for Wine project creates a support network for sustainable change, helping growers meet biodiversity and industry sustainability standards, by establishing personalised Biodiversity Action Plans for individual properties.

Biodiversity Action Plans identify how to:

  • conserve natural resources
  • ensure long-term viability and regeneration of the land
  • recognise stewardship of unique and specific environmental assets.

The plans encourage landholders to work with other growers and engage with local environmental groups in the district, to go beyond their own boundary to support their local region as a whole. 

Monitoring and research  

Good bugs vs bad bugs

Pest insects can have a significant impact on grape production, leading to economic loss for the grower. In South Australia these pests include Light Brown Apple Moth, Grape Vine Scale, Mealybugs and Mites.

Many insects that impact on grape production have effective natural enemies – we call them predatory arthropods or beneficial bugs.

Avoiding toxic pesticides and creating the right environment for beneficial bugs to thrive are important to good insect management in the vineyard. 

The project is using existing research and information on the many benefits and ways to increase beneficial bugs into the vineyard, and applying it at the local scale. It will monitor the response of remnant vegetation and plantings on the vineyard and estimate an economic value for the benefits observed. 

Birds

Grape growers are aware of bird species on their properties that damage crops. However little study has been undertaken to determine which species use or benefit vineyards in South Australia, their numbers or interactions with each other. An ornithologist will examine this in more detail.

Microbats

There is currently little research looking at the economic benefits of microbats in vineyards. But can microbats provide cheap, effective and natural pest control? Will this improve production and reduce the need for spraying in vineyards?

To find all this out, this project will first investigate what microbat species are present in the McLaren Vale region using an Anabat echolocation tool.

It will also install roost boxes, providing artificial habitat, to increase the chance of attracting more microbats to the region. Using these boxes allows us to identify which species are using them. Additional habitat (roost boxes) are needed as microbats rely on tree hollows or rough-barked trees to provide a safe haven during the day. However there are not usually many of these around a vineyard landscape.

Then to discover what microbats are eating, and how much of their diet is made up of pest insects, their guano (faeces) will be collected from the roost boxes and/or a trapping program, with DNA testing providing the results.

This collaborative study with researchers will help determing the economic value of microbats in vineyards.


Related links

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges