Soil Management

The Ag Bureau of SA and branches of across the State have undertaken numerous projects on this issue.

This has culminated in the collation of a Best practice manual.

Current projects relating to soil management include:

  • Innovative NDVI, pH and EC mapping in the Clare Valley vineyards and investigation and management of soil constraints to improve soil health, production and profitability - Funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the project is being delivered by Rural Solutions SA (PIRSA) and the Clare Valley Wine and Grape Association

    Clare Valley grape growers will benefit from a new Ag Bureau project that utilises new tools, methods and technologies to identify and manage soil variability in vineyards.

    Five sites have been selected this year on different soil types from Auburn to north of Clare and a further five sites will be selected later in the year. Vineyards can have considerable soil variability potentially impacting on grape quality, as well as yield. This can be due to variation in soil type and soil qualities such as soil pH, salt, sodic soils, poor soil fertility and poor soil structure etc.

    The first part of the project involves carrying out mapping layers – Southern Precision Pty Ltd has been sub-contracted to manage this component. The first flight (with drones) was completed in November 2018, resulting in the production of an elevation and contour map. The second flight in January 2019 produced a NDVI (normalised difference vegetation index) map. NDVI measures the reflectance of the vines and shows the growth and vigour of vines.

    From these maps the vineyards can then be divided into high, medium and low vigour zones. The good and poor areas will then be ground-truthed to identify differences in vine health and soil properties. Other mapping will also include soil pH and EC mapping.

    From the combined mapping, management zones can then be identified. Soil pits will be located and dug in the various management zones to ground-truth the maps and to identify soil constraints to vine growth.

    Field days, workshops or seminars will be held with grape growers to demonstrate the new tools and technologies in managing soils.

    The project commenced in September 2018 and finished in April 2020.

    For further information please contact: Andrew Harding, Senior Consultant, Rural Solutions SA (PIRSA), Clare on 0417 886 835.