WATER MANAGEMENT – INTERVIEW
WITH JAMES HOOK ON SHIRAZ
by James Hook If you grow young vineyards in tune with their surroundings and use
speciﬁc techniques like RDI you can make wine that holds its own against
Landmark McLaren Vale
100 year old vines.
You use the term RDI can you explain what this means?
James Hook grew up in McLaren Vale. Shiraz is his favourite variety.
James Hook: It’s an irrigation term. Regulated Deﬁcient Irrigation (RDI)
We recently caught up with James and asked him to give us some tips on
is a technique to produce small berries. RDI involves placing a moderate
how to get the best from Shiraz vines.
water stress on vines after they have ﬂowered. This occurs naturally where
How do Shiraz vineyards grow ultra-premium/icon fruit? vineyards are planted on shallow soil that dry out over summer.
James Hook: Shiraz is a vigorous variety. It needs limits or it will grow
foliage and shoots at the expense of fruit. The dry weather in McLaren Vale
helps because low summer rainfall gives us much better control of soil
moisture. It is the same in the Barossa and the Coonawarra, although it 100 Primary shoots
gets more rainfall the soil is shallow Terra Rossa and runs out of water at
the right time. Shoot 80 Berry
You don’t want the grapes to get too hot in summer or the ﬂavour is Berry
baked out. McLaren Vale has very reliable weather; the temperature in Volume Berry formation Berry ripening
summer is kept moderate because there is an afternoon sea-breeze. All the 40 compounds
premium grape-growing regions in South Australia (Clare, Coonawarra etc)
have low summer rainfall and a greater or lesser degree of temperature 20
regulation. & setting
We hear a lot of talk about old vine Shiraz. How important Time
are old vines?
Reproduced with permission – Coombe and McCarthy (2000)
James Hook: McLaren Vale and the Barossa have historically been port
and later wine production areas. Our vineyards have old vine material left
over from that time. Small berry size is desirable in Shiraz grapes for winemaking. Smaller
berries have a higher skin : pulp ratio. Berry skin contains ﬂavournols
The older the vine the more in balance it is to the environment; they
(anti-sunburn in grapes, ‘ﬂavour’ in wine), Anthocynins (colour) and other
have explored every inch of soil they can, and as the French call it they
complex molecules that add to wine taste. Grape pulp contains sugar
have found their terroir. Young vines are still being ‘pushed and pulled’.
and water. Therefore, the more skin compared to pulp the more complex
Older vines are more able to withstand changes like heavy rainfall, winds,
the wine. Think of a big circle versus a small circle. The bigger circle has a
heatwaves etc, without adverse affects to the fruit. Older vines aren’t
greater internal area; that is, more watery pulp.
always better, but they are more reliable.
Shiraz responds well to RDI irrigation. It has the effect of making the vine
work hard and keep the berries small. The trick with RDI irrigation is after
stressing or limiting the vines, is to then bring them back. This keeps the
leaves healthy and supplying the fruit with energy. Leaves ripen fruit!
Why does an agricultural supply company like Landmark have
specialist wine industry staff. Don’t viticulturalists normally
work for wineries?
James Hook: In growing grapes and making wine the biggest problem
you will have is getting lost in the advice that everyone gives you. It is also
important to have some specialists in the industry who are independent
of the winery system. An important advantage we offer our growers is
we can liaise on their behalf with wineries. The wineries seem to like this
approach as we offer highly skilled opinion as one specialist to another.
We let the winery know the grower’s goals and that they, the winery, are
welcome to give opinion on techniques etc. Wineries aren’t in the business
of giving advice, so when they do we ensure the growers understand
their recommendations as this is in everyone’s best interest. We offer
specialist services like moisture monitoring, nutrition and of course pest
and disease advice.
I am proud to be able to offer this service. I have great pride working for
Landmark because it lets me help a lot of people.
Soil analysis puts your crop’s
potential in safe hands.
CSBP’S SOIL AND PLANT LABORATORY ANALYSIS SERVICE WILL
HELP IDENTIFY NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES BEFORE THEY CAN AFFECT
GROWTH, HELPING YOU TO MAXIMISE YIELD AND PROFITS.
CONTACT CSBP SOIL AND PLANT ANALYSIS LABORATORY
(08) 9434 4600 FOR MORE INFORMATION. WWW.CSBP.COM.AU
ON THE HARVEST TRAIL
For vegetable and fruit growers, harvest is the busiest time during their The NHLIS refers workers to many areas throughout Australia. However it
production year. The National Harvest Labour Information Service (NHLIS) has been found that the lack of affordable accommodation and transport
is a federally funded service set up to help coordinate harvest labour to farms are two key barriers in sending workers to a speciﬁc area. The
to the areas most in need throughout Australia. The NHLIS distributes NHLIS is happy to work with growers to review their options to help
this information to jobseekers including related work requirements and overcome these circumstances.
regional information. The NHLIS encourages growers and contractors,
THE NHLIS USES THREE KEY LINKS TO SUPPORT THE HARVEST TRAIL:
especially those ﬁnding it difﬁcult to source harvest workers to lodge their
The National Telephone Service which has a freecall number 1800 062 332.
vacancies onto the Harvest Trail website.
This service runs from 8am to 8pm (est) weekdays throughout the year.
For employers requiring assistance from NHLIS to source harvest labour it Call centre operators take calls relating to harvest labour from job seekers
is essential they register their requirements on the harvest trail website. and employers then connects callers to the appropriate organisation or
• Employers can contact their local Harvest Labour Ofﬁce (where
available) or Job Network/Placement agency who will lodge the The Harvest Trail Website, www.jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail is part of the
positions onto the website and manage the recruitment process on Commonwealth Government’s job search website and is a designated area
behalf of the employer. dealing speciﬁcally with harvest labour for Australia. It has signiﬁcantly
expanded and improved, providing comprehensive information about
• Employers who have access to the internet and would like to directly
harvest opportunities throughout Australia.
handle enquiries from jobseekers, can lodge their vacancies onto the
website, by simply going to www.jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail and The National Harvest Guide provides comprehensive information about
clicking on the ‘Employers’ area and ‘advertise a job’, then following harvest work opportunities and locations, working conditions, transport
the prompts. If you experience difﬁculty you can call the NHLIS on options and accommodation arrangements. This harvest guide is a free
1800 062 332 for assistance. publication and is distributed nationally to itinerant workers, eligible
job seekers, backpackers and the “grey nomads”. It is also available
• Alternatively, by calling 1800 062 332 the NHLIS can lodge the vacancy
electronically on the Harvest Trail website.
for you. For the NHLIS to be effective in linking workers with employers,
it is essential that the service is made aware of labour demands as The NHLIS urges all growers and contractors looking to employ workers,
early as possible. to make use of this National service and register their vacancies on the
The changes made to the Working Holiday Visa late in 2005, allowing
backpackers who undertake three months seasonal work in “regional For further information please call the NHLIS on 1800 062 332.
Australia” to extend their visa by a further 12 months and now being able
to work with one employer for up to 6 months, has resulted in a large
increase in workers wanting to work on the Harvest Trail. These changes
have seen more job seekers (backpackers, itinerant workers and
“Grey Nomads”) looking for work. Thus, the NHLIS urges all growers to
take advantage of this service. This article is reprinted with kind permission of the National Labour Information Service.
ACHIEVING HIGH YIELDS and QUALITY
USING CROP MONITORING
Consistently producing good quality and high yields of fruit or vegetables For instance, the nitrate changes from vegetative stages to fruit ﬁlling
under changing weather and soil conditions requires continuous and maturing stages, and other elements such as calcium will change
monitoring of the changing conditions and crop performance so that accordingly.
management adjustments are ﬁne tuned to offset these changing As a number of other factors such as soil moisture, light intensity, air
conditions. temperature, soil temperature and soil pH inﬂuence the levels of the
Over the last 20 years, many horticultural producers in Queensland have various elements in the plant sap, these parameters must be considered
been using a system of nutrient monitoring to help achieve high quality when making crop management decisions. In general, these factors only
products without compromising yield. play a major role if the inﬂuence is for an extended period of time.
SOIL SOLUTION TESTING
The nutrient uptake potential of crops is affected greatly by the
A nutrient monitoring program consisting of a conventional soil test to
concentration of various salts in the soil solution. Many elements are
calculate basic nutrition requirements, and a combination of Sap testing
dependant on uptake against the osmotic gradient between the soil
and “QuickSoil” testing is used to make informed decisions on fertilizer
solution and the root solution and the rate of uptake is affected by the
products, rates and timing.
magnitude of the gradient as well as the ratios of competing ions in the
SAP TESTING soil solution.
Sap testing is designed to collect data by regularly monitoring nutrient
The QuickSoilTM test is a measure of dissolved or readily dissolved and
levels in the plant sap and diagnose the plant’s physiological reaction
available ions in the soil solution and is interpreted to estimate the
to the environment and agronomic management. Sap testing provides potential for immediate uptake by the plant. The methods of extraction
an indication of the rate of plant metabolism and nutrient uptake which are different to the conventional soil extractions which estimate “plant
can assist in the development of overall management decisions for crop available” nutrients or nutrients that can be accessed by the plant over a
nutrition and irrigation. period of time.
As plants have changing growth patterns through the crop development The pH of the soil solution is an indicator of the availability of many
stages, the optimal levels of nutrients are not constant throughout the elements and of the soil condition. A major change in the soil pH could see
season, and therefore, are graphed and compared against optimal level sudden appearances of toxicities or deﬁciencies caused by the changing
graphs relating to the particular stages of growth. solubility of various elements at different soil solution pH.
By using the petiole sap and QuickSoil levels to monitor the dynamics of INTEGRATED CROP MANAGEMENT
the changes over time, in combination with weather, crop management By combining the data from this broad crop monitoring system, an
factors and crop performance, an overall management strategy can be integrated management approach can be implemented to improve plant
designed to maintain soil conditions as close to optimal as possible for health through better decisions on fertilizing and irrigating crops for
good production and quality. higher yields and quality.
MANAGING MONITORING DATA For more information go to www.croptech.com.au
The “Integrator” software package is designed primarily for intensive crop
production and is very suited to drip irrigation and fertigation.
This is an abstract of the presentation given by John Hall at the Vegetable Conference
The package has modules that cover plant nutrition, pest and disease Workshop May 2006. John Hall is the founder of Crop Tech and is currently Managing Director
monitoring, plant mapping and irrigation management. of Crop Management Australia.
The software calculates nutrient requirement based on soil tests and a
range of other parameters and recalculates the nutrient requirement for
each critical crop growth stage following Sap and QuickSoil tests. This
takes into account changed nutrient levels and crop conditions, caused by
recent applications of fertilizer, leaching, or crop usage.
The application rates and nutrient ratios vary between crops and growth
stages and is recalculated if yield potential is compromised by poor fruit
set or other restrictions.
The package incorporates diagnostic tools such as plant symptom
recognition and diagnosis of sap nutrient changes caused by growth
restricting inﬂuences like soil moisture, nutrient imbalances, or extreme
Agrifood Technology takes the guesswork out of quality and
safety by testing fruit and vegetables for the presence of residues, micro organisms and heavy metals.
Our cutting edge laboratories are rigorously monitored, registered with the National Association of
Testing Authorities (NATA) and ISO 9001-2000 accredited.
Experience, expertise, competitive pricing and efﬁcient turnaround. Agrifood is the pick of the crop.
Freecall 1800 801 312 or visit www.agrifood.com.au
Agrifood Technology Pty Ltd ABN 52 085 032 104
COMING SOON TO
The link between weather and mildew activity is being used by South When surveyed, 80% of growers rated the service as useful to their
Australian grape growers to predict outbreaks and cut unnecessary sprays. business every week, the remaining 20% thought the service was useful
Using a system called CropWatch which involves a series of weather most of the time. All of the growers wanted the service to continue.
stations in the vineyards, growers have been able to receive information
In September 2006, two new pilot CropWatch services supported by
that assists their decision-making.
Landmark and SARDI were founded in Langhorne Creek and the Clare
The CropWatch pest and disease program has been operating in the Valley. Using the same technology of combining weather station data with
Riverland for over ten seasons under the guidance of Dr Peter Magarey photographs and information the service has proved a hit with growers
at SARDI Loxton. Based on faxing reports on weather data it has been a in these regions. James Hook took his experience in McLaren Vale and
reliable, respected and useful tool in helping Riverland growers best tend put it to work with local viticulturalists, Matthew Wilson at Landmark
their grapevines. Six hundred of the region’s grape growers are kept in the Strathalbyn and Jane Adams at Landmark Clare.
loop in this way.
“The team is doing well. Feedback shows there will be continuing use of
Over the last few seasons a revolution has been taking place behind the weather data to indicate the need to spray, as opposed to use of routine
scenes making the CropWatch service a world leader. New technology sprays for some diseases,” the Langhorne Creek association’s CEO Lian
has been used to make the service useful every day to grape growers. Jaensch said.
CropWatch has innovated and improved its service by setting up the
“For example several growers have commented the more up to date the
website www.cropwatchonline.com with pest and disease diagnosis,
information they have the happier they feel about their disease control,”
weather information and news and it is all available from your computer.
In 2003 McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism partnered with the
It is hoped that over the next few seasons more regions will have
Riverland Wine Industry Development Council to bring CropWatch to
CropWatch services and disease control will be helped all across
McLaren Vale. Landmark stepped up to help get the service off the ground
by agreeing to offer its viticulturalist, James Hook, to run the service.
So, if you would like CropWatch in your region, visit
With a lot of hard work by James, CropWatch has now become the
www.cropwatchonline.com or talk to your local Landmark Agronomist.
ﬂagship project for McLaren Vale grape growers. Feedback through the
industry puts CropWatch McLaren Vale at the top of the pile. It is received
weekly (or more often) by 300 recipients through email and 85 by fax.
Growers also receive special alerts to their mobile phones reporting on
bad weather. This use of new communication tools and the CropWatch
website has made McLaren Vale growers the best informed in the country.
The next best thing to customising your Introducing Agricola’s Orchard
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For more information visit
or call 1800 622 015
*This information is provided by Landmark (Qld) Limited ABN 31 008 996 218, which acts
as an Authorised Representative (No: 275322) of Agricola Underwriting Management Pty
Limited (ABN 87 070 058 212, AFSL 237271); and relates to ﬁnancial products issued by
Agricola. This information may contain general ﬁnancial product advice which has been
prepared without taking account of your objectives, ﬁnancial situation or needs. You should,
before acting on the advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to
these matters. You should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for the
relevant product, which is available from your local Landmark agent, before making any
decision about whether to acquire or continue to hold the product.
Landmark (Qld) Limited receives a commission of 8.5% from Agricola of any premiums
written (excluding taxes and charges). LANI4015
For all your With Landmark Equity Advantage
Landmark Equity Advantage is provided to approved applicants and subject to relevant terms and conditions. Subject to change without notice.
Landmark Operations Limited ABN 73 008 743 217. Landmark Operations Limited ABN 73 008 743 217 acts as a Servicer and Originator of
Permanent Custodians Limited ACN 001 426 384 as trustee under the Master Trust Deed establishing the RURAL Program. LANF4036