Andy Clarke

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Viticultural advisor

Andy will be speaking in Session 5. Fresh Science A (Click here to see more) and will be chair of Session 8. Solving problems with technology (Click here to see more)

Abstract (Session 5. Fresh Science A)

In December 2019, a bushfire occurred in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, where 25,000 hectares were burnt and in vineyards and surrounding areas various degrees of scorching and infrastructure damage occurred. The ability to coordinate and plan recovery after a fire event relies on robust and timely data. Current practice for measuring the scale and distribution of fire damage is to walk or drive the vineyard and score individual vines based on visual observation. The process labour intensive and subjective. After the December 2019 fires, it took many months to access properties and estimate the area of vineyard damaged. This study compares the rapid assessment and mapping of fire damage using high-resolution satellite imagery with more traditional ground-based measures. Canopy growth, vine fertility and starch concentrations were tracked in the two seasons following the fire event to assess vine recovery. Canopy health in the seasons following the fires correlated to the severity of the initial fire damage. Fire damaged vines had reduced canopy growth, had low fertility or in some cases were infertile and lower bud and cane starch concentrations, which reduced productivity in the seasons following the bushfire event. In contrast, vines that received minor-moderate damage in most cases were able to recover within 1-2 years. Tools that rapidly and affordably capture the extent and severity of damage over large vineyard area will allow producers, government and industry bodies to manage decisions in relation to fire recovery planning, coordination and delivery, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their response.


Andy Clarke is The Dirt Dude, a viticultural advisor based in Bendigo, Victoria. He is passionate about innovation and using technological advances to drive sustainable wine businesses. His 20 years of experience in the wine sector covers a variety of vineyard and winery roles including Chief Viticulturist with Yering Station. Andy was also the CEO of AgTech company GAIA Innovations, combining machine learning and satellite imagery to deliver the National Vineyard Scan. His insights in production, processing and technology help his desire to drive greater Agtech adoption throughout the Australian wine sector.
Andy is Vice President of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology, and a member of Wine Victoria’s Technical Subcommittee. In 2015, he was a Nuffield Scholar, sponsored by Wine Australia.