Barossa Grape & Wine Association’s “Creating Resilient Landscapes in Barossa” environmental initiative, now into its 7th year, picked up the Australian Government Landcare Farming Award at the SA Landcare Awards last night.

BGWA launched the program in 2012 with bus tours to Barossa grape growers’ properties to showcase best-practice in biodiversity and soil health. In 2019, this has grown to a network of 150 growers – eight of whom featured in an “Environmental Champions of the Barossa” video series.

“By building organic matter and improving soil health, and increasing biodiversity, we can reduce inputs such as water, synthetic fertilisers and chemicals – and Barossa’s vineyards can better withstand the hotter, drier seasons we are experiencing,” said BGWA Viticultural Development Officer Nicki Robins.

“Barossa growers need to produce consistently-yielding, and therefore high quality, wine grapes in order to maintain our status as Australia’s global wine and food region,” said Nicki.

Under “Creating Resilient Landscapes in Barossa”, communities of Barossa growers are also regularly involved in “planting days” to restore native plants in creek-lines to provide stepping-stones of habitat for declining species in Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park and other native areas. This is strongly supported by Adelaide & Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board.

And in partnership with Wine Australia and Tarac Technologies, BGWA has also set up eight “demonstration vineyards” on six Barossa soil types, to showcase a 1Ha trial against the grower’s current practice. Treatments include the effects of under-vine composts and mulches, native and other grasses in the mid-row and under-vine, soil moisture monitoring, catch-wires, and different pruning methods.

“The most important aspect of all this for Barossa is that we keep working towards creating a resilient farming resource that is environmentally, socially and financially sustainable for many generations to come,” said Nicki.