The Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) has announced plans to collaborate with the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area to host several field days dedicated to the latest developments in spray rigs.
The events, funded as a Hort Innovation table grape project, will be repeated six times over the first three days of May in select locations across the area. Here, growers from Merbein to Woorinen will have the chance to see various baiting rigs in operation.
ATGA’s chief executive officer Jeff Scott says: “These field days offer growers an opportunity to go out in the field and see what the spraying options are and talk to other growers that are demonstrating their spray set-up.”
The events are being organized by the Hort Innovation’s funded project coordinator Alison MacGregor. In addition to planning, she is also “helping table grape growers to think about faster, simpler and cheaper designs for spray baits”, says ATGA.
The idea for this innovative format was inspired by a local grower – Sunraysia table grape grower Peter Argiro – whose custom spray rig applies bait sprays at his family vineyard. According to Argiro, his machine will reduce the number of fruit flies on his land, decreasing his pest management costs.
As far as what influenced Argiro’s invention, the grower says it was the search for a more efficient spray application. “We have 100 hectares of vines here in Merbein. To bait the whole area, we needed a much faster and much more economical way of applying bait than foliar spraying every vine from the tractor,” Argiro explains.
“We had an understanding of the units out there but hadn’t found something to meet our needs, so we decided to design our own rig. The main thing was making it very adjustable, to fit through all our different vine canopies. Once we had the design, it took us about four hours work to hook up a small tank and electric pump to arms that we can adjust.
“And once we made the decision to make baiting more efficient, we actually designed and built this really quickly and cheaply. We already had all the parts.
“We should be able to get across large areas very quickly now, at much less cost than before,” says Argiro.
In reference to Argiro’s problem-solving approach, MacGregor notes: “Growers are great inventors. Their designs are so practical. They are inspired by personal experience and sharing of ideas. Peter Argiro’s rig is an example of that. I love the simplicity of it.”
Though built to solve a seasonal problem at his family vineyard, Argiro’s invention reflects the greater desire for this type of unit in the industry.
“The next generation grower was looking for a spray unit with the capabilities that would meet a number of requirements,” says AGTA.
As for the necessity of such advances in the future, Scott says: “Biosecurity risks are real, and growers need to be proactive to protect the industry we have all worked so hard to establish.”
You will be able to find more information on topics such as this at the inaugural Global Grape Summit, which will take place alongside the London Produce Show and Conference on June 5th, 2019. Please visit www.globalgrapesummit.