Sharing knowledge to drive innovation

Vinehealth Australia’s innovative geofencing pilot project, Boundary Rider, received significant media attention in the months following its launch, leading to interest from other industries in Australia and overseas.

In response to an ABC Country Hour news article in January, we were contacted by Sarah Limpus – Development Horticulturist at Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries – who was organising a three-day precision agriculture and innovation study tour for 10 horticulture/vegetable growers from the Bowen-Gumlu area.

Vinehealth’s Technical Manager, Suzanne McLoughlin, spent half a day with the group in February in McLaren Vale, talking about the importance of biosecurity to the wine industry and project Boundary Rider. The group also heard from James Hook (DJs Growers) about CropWatch and Oli Madgett (Digital Innovator and Grapegrower) about innovative mobile applications for plant-based industries.

“The wine industry contributes $40.2 billion in gross output to the Australian economy annually, meaning we have a lot to protect,” Suzanne told the group.

“Our industry needs to safeguard its greatest resource – its vines – as well as protect its people and the famous brands that are created for consumers to enjoy around the world. We also need to be mindful that the landscape we are all working in is changing – for example our people and products are on the move and more rapidly than ever before, and we need to factor this in to how we think about protecting ourselves from biosecurity incursions going forward.

“With the mobility of our machinery and labour we know we work in a very connected landscape, not only within our own winegrowing regions, but across regions, and there is a greater chance than ever before of pest and disease spread. Vinehealth Australia is now looking towards innovative technology as a potential means to help us to protect individual properties and whole regions and even states.

“It’s important that biosecurity is a shared responsibility for all involved – from government to researchers to industry bodies to growers to consumers.”

Suzanne said it was a great morning spent sharing knowledge and ideas with a forward-thinking group of growers. “The conclusion was that no matter if you are talking biosecurity, pest and disease management or technology, most of our issues as growers are similar across crops and locations,” she said.

“This has reinforced for me the need for the wine industry to look beyond its own backyard, to find solutions to problems.”

For more information about Project Boundary Rider click here: http://www.vinehealth.com.au/projects/project-boundary-rider/