Wine Industry Funding

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister update the house on how the state government is supporting innovative technology to help wine grapegrowers?

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:06): I certainly can, and I thank the member for Hammond for his important question. I know that he is at the forefront of technology in agriculture. We are looking at how we can also use some of that technology in the vineyards of South Australia.

The state government has recently approved $134,000 in funding from the South Australian Wine Industry Development Scheme to Riverland Wine for a project focused on real-time technology in vineyards. This technology and this trial will benefit the wine industry statewide. Riverland Wine put this project up, and it has been awarded to them for the great work that both Chris Byrne and all the Riverland Wine growers are undertaking as we speak. Riverland Wine has partnered with Wine Australia and the University of Adelaide to create a digital vineyard guidance system. The pilot project will utilise existing vineyard devices, such as soil moisture monitoring, evaporation sensors, and use a digital platform to filter the data.

This could be a game-changer for the wine industry. For a number of years, the wine industry has been under severe pressure to be globally competitive, and the South Australian wine industry in particular generates over 70 per cent of the nation's premium wines. I know in the Riverland that of the 460,000 tonnes of premium wine 98 per cent is exported. It's an outstanding achievement. However, what we are going to see is changing technology in how we can monitor vineyards, how we can use data and how we are going to help inputs into vineyards but, just as importantly, it is about improving the quality of our fruit in the vineyards to even better the product that we put onto shelves.

The project came about after leading academics from the University of Adelaide's School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences—titled as 'The thinking 10 meets the nerdy nine'—met in the Riverland with wine grapegrowers. That was the turning point, where the university, the wine industry and Riverland Wine came together and brought feedback that was received and is now generating technology and bringing that to the fore.

I look forward to seeing the results of this project, but what is really important to me, as a previous wine grapegrower, is that we now have to reduce our carbon footprint. We have to reduce tractor hours in a vineyard. We have to decrease man hours and tractor hours as well as our inputs into growing the grapevine products that we do. Being globally competitive, driving innovation, keeping the South Australian wine industry at the cutting edge of a global wine sector is critically important to the future of the wine sector here.

I know that many of us enjoy a drop, but more and more people globally are taking advantage of free trade agreements. More and more people in our trading nations are now tasting the great product that comes from South Australia. I commend all of the wine industry—the winemakers, the grapegrowers, the promoters and the wine industry at large—for the great work they're doing in promoting an industry that is rapidly growing to be one of the great commodity drivers to South Australia's economy.