Community spirit naturally, makes great wine
The Barossa Valley in South Australia is well known for fine wines and associated tourism industry.
In a region where an estimated 3% of native vegetation remains, the community have been concerned with protecting the local native plant species and creating a seedbank for future generations.
That stark statistic led to the establishment of the Barossa Bushgardens in 2001. Since that time, the Barossa Bushgardens have grown to encompass a native seed orchard, plant nursery and natural resource centre.
Local vignerons have increasingly been requesting the assistance of the Barossa Bushgardens to establish native insectary plantings. An insectary is an area of native vegetation which provides habitat to attract beneficial arthropods such as spiders, ladybirds, lacewings, wasps and damsel bugs to the vineyard. These arthropods are the predators of key vineyard pests such as light brown apple moth and the vine moth caterpillar.
‘It makes sense to incorporate natural solutions to pest control from an economic and sustainability point of view’, says Brooke Howell, viticulturist and technical officer at Yalumba’s Pewsey Vale Vineyard. ‘We are becoming more aware of the relationships between plants and beneficial insects and making that work for us in the vineyard’.
Industry representative, Mary Retallack, Retallack Viticulture and PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide agrees, ‘Native insectary plants are naturally adapted to the landscape and can provide food, shelter and alternative prey, to nourish beneficial predators. Beneficial arthropods contribute to biological pest control in vineyards throughout the year. If we can look after the good bugs, there are thousands of little workers doing this work for free.’
Pam Payne, Nursery Manager at the Barossa Bushgardens explains that insectary plantings utilise native plants for a specific beneficial function in the vineyard. ‘Insectary plantings can complement existing biodiversity plantings and linkages to remnant areas.’
‘The greater the diversity of plants, the better buffered a system tends to be.’ Says Mary Retallack. ‘The selection of suitable plants that flower at different times throughout the year can provide season long benefits to predators. This will help to reduce yield losses due to pest damage in the vineyard.’
The native plant nursery at the Bushgardens is run by volunteers from the Barossa Community. Every weekday different volunteer groups collect seed, propagate native plants and tend to the gardens. The Barossa Community has supported this unique community project from donations of elbow grease and materials, to financial support from local businesses, The Barossa Council and the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board.
‘It’s wonderful to see locally threatened plants grown by our volunteers being planted in the landscapes that they came from and valued in new ways’, says Pam Payne.
For More Information contact Sarah Barrett, Barossa Busghgardens 0428 885 916 or www.barossabushgardens.com.au