Home' The Murray Pioneer : January 20th 2017 Contents POSITIVE GROWTH
With almost all Riverland wineries having
issued indicative prices by mid-January, the signs
for the region continue to be positive.
The $400 (minimum indicative) mark for pre-
ferred reds has been achieved. This is good news.
It’s a 19 per cent improvement for shiraz and 15
per cent for cab sauv over 2016 regional averages.
These are the indicatives growers suggested
back in September at the breakfast meetings.
Furthermore, $310 is the likely 2017 average for
chardonnay and that’s also an increase of approxi-
mately 5 per cent; not to be sneezed at.
Most other prices are considered fair, with sev-
eral wineries also breaking $400 for merlot!
This goes a long way to restoring industry con-
Putting growers’ indicative minimums out
there was very much a calculated risk. Seeing
them largely agreed to is an endorsement of the
collaborative working arrangements put in place
in this region between winemakers and growers
way back in 2010.
Riverland Wine executive officer Chris Byrne
said this week:
“ These prices reflect the market reality. It’s
been well and truly established now; there is a
shortage of bulk wine globally.
“ There’s no doubt that has been a significant
factor underlying the positive pricing announce-
ments. Riverland grapes are in demand. And
prices are returning to a point where growers
can look forward with renewed confidence; re-
investment back into vineyards can be planned
and some of the remedial maintenance work
that’s been necessarily deferred in recent years
can be carried out.
“Value will return to vineyard assets. Regional
wealth will improve measurably this year. Benefits
will be shared across the community.
“With margins pressed to the bone over the
last decade it’s been tough to be an on-goer
watching so much of the wealth being siphoned
off, beyond the reach of primary producers. Our
underlying emphasis on sustainable programs and
value-chain principles is beginning to resonate.
“ The region’s winegrowers and winemakers
will continue developing joint strategies in the
exciting areas of R&D to ensure we continue to
be competitive in every aspect of viticulture and
wine production. Trust will continue to grow and
FAB SCOUTS UPDATE
Soon after the hail storm of November
11, Riverland Wine approached the State
Government and offered to fund one full-time
equivalent Family and Business Scout (FaBS) for
up to six months to liaise between growers and
Many will recall the great work undertaken
by FaBS in response to the drought. The system
worked well and connected many who were ‘suf-
fering in silence’ to pick up the pieces and press
on. Minister Bignell welcomed the initiative and
matched the offer.
Riverland Wine identified several potential
‘Scouts’ from within the community and this
week the first induction session was convened at
Former FaBS mentor Judy Wilkinson, a broad-
acre farmer from the Mid North, spent several
hours with the ‘interested’ new FaBS explaining
the nature of the Scouts role.
She described it as ‘the conduit’ between the
growers who’ve suffered losses but don’t know
which way to turn for support and agencies that
can assist in a multitude of ways.
Understanding which institutions can provide
guidance and support can be confusing and even
intimidating; not just financial support but wellbe-
ing in every sense. There’s nothing worse than
lying awake worrying and not knowing who to
approach; even just to talk through the worries.
Concerns about confidentiality are often an
It’s human nature to want to be successful.
When circumstances beyond anyone’s control,
like hailstorms, single out selected families for a
harsh lesson in farming risk, it’s common for some
to feel as if they have failed in some way.
The Scout’s role is a challenging one, but one
that Riverland Wine and PIRSA think is a vital part
of the recovery effort; not just for wine growers
but for all those whose livelihoods have been
impacted by the ‘once in a lifetime’ storm.
In the coming weeks, further training and
preparation will be undertaken and then the
Scouts will be made known.
It’s likely that their real work will begin as
soon as the income streams that would normally
enable budgets to balance run dry. For some this
will be very soon. For winegrowers it’s likely to be
later in the year but whatever the case, the Scouts
will be ready.
Thankfully many of the damaged trees and
vines are well into recovery. This can give the
impression that all’s well when in fact the impact
on families and businesses is just beginning to
emerge. Don’t wait for the Scouts; take the time
to ask RUOK and listen actively. Sometimes, that’s
all it takes to encourage a friend or neighbour to
LOXTON RESEARCH CENTRE
A community market will be held as part of the
opening celebrations of the $7.5 million Loxton
Research Centre redevelopment, on Friday,
The free event, commencing at 4pm, will be
held in the walnut grove and lawn area.
The market will include wine and food stalls
and activities for children.
Forming part of the $265 million South
Australian River Murray Sustainability (SARMS)
Program, funded by the Federal Government,
the redevelopment at Loxton Research Centre
supports the State Government’s ‘premium food
and wine produced in our clean environment and
exported to the world’ economic priority by pro-
moting this region’s and the state’s reputation as
a leader in sustainable agriculture and producer
of premium food and wine.
Rural Solutions SA executive director Daniel
Casement said: “ The new-look Loxton Research
Centre is set to become a showcase for South
Australia’s extraordinary River Murray region and
a key regional location for national and interna-
tional research and events.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming the
Riverland and Murraylands community to this
special event to celebrate the redevelopment.”
AVAILABLE – DON’T
Riverland hailstorm recovery assistance grants
of up to $10,000 are available to help affected
primary producers with the clean-up and recovery
from the hailstorms of November 11.
The assistance will be jointly funded by
the Commonwealth and State governments
under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery
Grants can be used to reimburse costs includ-
Clean-up costs such as hire of equipment and
third party labour costs
Removal and disposal of debris, damaged
goods (including activities associated with the
appropriate disposal of fallen and damaged fruit)
Repairs to structures (e.g. plastic houses,
Repair of equipment (e.g. irrigation systems,
Agronomic crop advice to assist in the return
to full production.
It is important to go through the grant check-
list and enclose any necessary documents
The grants will be made to primary producers
whose properties were damaged by the storm
event in the Berri-Barmera, Loxton-Waikerie and
Renmark-Paringa Council districts. Consideration
is being given to also including properties dam-
aged in the Mid-Murray Council District around
NOTE: Only one grant per primary producer
will be made. PIRSA has established a Storm
Recovery Centre, at the Loxton Research Centre
and PIRSA staff are available to assist with
applications. More details are available at www.
pir.sa.gov.au/riverlandhailstormgrants or by
calling 08 8595 9100.
Above all... DON’T SELF-ASSESS.
20 COUNTRYSIDE www.murraypioneer.com.au Friday, January 20, 2017
tion has been a welcome
addition to the vineyard
of local couple Sue and
David ‘Joe’ Meek.
In 2013 the Glossop
wine grape growers
installed a control unit
that is pre-programmed
to turn their irrigation
system on and off, and
is even able to be oper-
As well as reducing
the time it takes to man-
ually control pumps, the
system has allowed the
couple to have a more
flexible lifestyle and
more time away from
Last year Mr and Mrs
Meek enjoyed a trip to
Europe, pre-setting the
irrigation system to
water vines during their
three weeks away.
“We never would
have been able to go
away without having an
automation system, not
unless we hired some-
one to keep an eye on
the irrigation for us,” Mr
“We’re now enjoy-
ing spending time with
our children and grand-
children. I’d love to buy
a caravan and go bush
The installation of
the control system
was part of two larger
thanks to funding
through the Australian
The Meeks were
awarded $113,000 to
purchase and install the
control system, pumps,
filters and telemetry
systems as well as
upgrading a patch of
overhead sprinklers to
The data generated
by soil moisture probes
has proven to be an
tool for Mr Meek, who
regularly monitors the
data on a tablet device.
“We’re using soil
moisture data to deter-
mine when to apply
water and usually apply
water when it starts to
get dry between 500-
700mm below the soil
surface,” he said.
“In summer we aim
to keep the full profile
wet, so we turn water
on when the top 100mm
starts to dry out.”
Now in his 60s, Mr
Meek says the new sys-
tem will allow him to
maintain his involve-
ment with the block,
while training the next
“We’re not sure if any
of our children will be
interested in running the
block, but our grandson
Slater certainly will be,”
“He’s only seven
years old, but he takes
a great interest in all of
the day-to-day activities
and is a very keen stu-
In exchange for the
funding, Mr and Mrs
Meek returned 24.5
megalitres of water to
Holder (CEWH) to be
used as environmental
water (E-Water). These
reserves are released
into the river’s wetlands
and floodplains, provid-
ing a critical resource
for native biodiversity.
Program, is funded
by the Australian
Government to achieve
economic and environ-
mental benefits under
the Basin Plan. The
Program is delivered
by the SAMDB NRM
Board across the south-
ern connected system
of the Murray-Darling
Basin, assists irriga-
tors to improve the effi-
ciency and productivity
of on-farm water while
returning water to the
It includes activities
for soil moisture man-
agement, which is criti-
cal for sustainable food
production and water
Game-changer for Glossop grower
Sue and David ‘Joe’ Meek, with their grandchildren (from left), Lily, Wavely and Slater. Sue and David installed a control unit that is
pre-programmed to turn the irrigation system on and off.
FUTURE FARMERS: The Meeks’ grandchildren, (from
left) Wavely, Slater and Lily, are keen to get involved
in life on the block.
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