Peter will be speaking in Session 10. A focus on carbon and water. Click here to see more.
There are good reasons for concern and pessimism about the impacts of any increase in the scarcity of water for Australian viticulture. There are also reasons for hope and optimism.
Three reasons for concern.
First, water underpins Australian viticulture. Almost all winegrapes in Australia are irrigated. Furthermore, water is essential to minimise the impact of rising temperature and heatwaves. Second, climate change will threaten most sources of water including rainfall stored in the rootzone, local dams and reservoirs, groundwater and water imported from outside the region via a river or pipeline. A 10% reduction in rainfall may result in 20% to 30% reduction in runoff. Although recycled water is relatively independent of climate, this source of water is not widely available. And third, diverse demands for water will interact with a changing climate. Viticulture competes for irrigation water with other agricultural industries along with competition from environmental flows and urban demand.
Three reasons for optimism.
First, vines can survive considerable water stress and the water use per hectare is less than most other irrigated crops. Growers can reduce water use with a modest reduction in yield but a potential increase in quality. Second, Australia has innovated with a sophisticated market to trade water. Many wine grape growers have learned how to use this water trading for their enterprise. And third there have been decades of RD&E on the physiology of vine water use and innovative approaches to irrigation management. Importantly this science has been adapted to practice. Furthermore, there is emerging research and practice on managing water. Sources for this improvement come from the Internet of Things and Agtech, better forecasts of weather and climate, better understanding of soil and vine response, low-cost desalination of ground water, fine tuning of water trading and the endless curiosity of growers experimenting within their vineyards.
Dr Peter Hayman is the Principal Scientist in Climate Applications at SARDI. As program leader of the climate applications science program area he works with industry stakeholders in dryland and irrigated industries to identify key climate risks and then form appropriate research and development partnerships to address the issue. He provides a two-way flow of information between climate scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, and agriculture in South Australia. Peter has regular interaction with the national Managing Climate Variability Program and the Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries. He has served on World Meteorological Organisation expert teams in agro-climatology and was part of a team organised by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility to review the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chapters on Australasia and adaptation.