Description Reducing the cost of winter pruning was the focus of a workshop for the dried grape industry last week.
Hosted by Dried Fruits Australia (DFA), the two-day workshop brought together industry experts and growers to discuss pruning issues and possible solutions.
DFA chairman Mark King said winter pruning was now the most time-consuming operation in the growing season.
“Pruning vines on a 20-hectare dried grape property costs about $13,000 in labour every year,” Mr King said.
“As an industry we need to identify ways of reducing this cost to improve efficiency on the farm and ensure the sector can grow into the future.”
The June 27 and 28 workshop began in the field at Ashley Johnstone’s Irymple dried fruit block.
Michael Treeby, a senior research scientist in horticulture at Agriculture Victoria, gave the group a lesson in vine physiology before Mr Johnstone spoke about his current pruning operations.
The rest of the workshop took place at Agriculture Victoria in Irymple, where participants heard from specialists in robotics, engineering and machinery production.
Vision Robotics co-founder Tony Koselka Skyped in from California to discuss his experience developing a robotic pruning system, and Trigg Industries director Rodney Trigg spoke about the production of specialist machinery for the dried fruit industry.
Jasper Brown from the Horticulture Innovation Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems at University of Sydney talked about what is currently happening in the field of robotics and how the technology could be applied to the dried grape industry.
University of South Australia mechanical engineering professor John Fielke was also on hand to discuss simple ways of solving problems in the agriculture industry.
The event was funded through DFA and the Hort Innovation Dried Grape Fund using the dried grape R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government.