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Media release. Andrew Clarke. 2015 Scholarship winner

Media release. Andrew Clarke. 2015 Scholarship winner

Andrew Clarke, from Ringwood North in Victoria, has been awarded a prestigious Nuffield Scholarship supported by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AWGA).

He will investigate managing subsoil restrictions in established vineyards.

As chief viticulturist for Yering Station (part of the Rathbone Wine Group) in the Yarra Valley, Andrew is responsible for all viticultural programs and vineyard management on the property. Yering Station currently has 95 hectares planted to vines, predominantly the core varieties Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Shiraz. Andrew is responsible for the management of 6 full time staff plus up to 50 contract labourers during peak periods, and manages each vineyard block differently to ensure targeted quality and yield outcomes are met.

Andrew will use his Nuffield Scholarship to find practical and innovative methods of improving root zone volumes for better vineyard productivity and wine quality.

“The soil research community estimates that up to 80 per cent of existing vineyards are significantly affected by subsoil issues.

Many are planted on sodic, acidic, salty and impermeable subsoils, or a combination of these, resulting in restricted root growth, and significant reductions in vineyard productivity and profitability,” Andrew explains.

By increasing the soil volume available to the vine, Andrew says the finite resources of soil, nutrition and water can be used more efficiently.

“There is a need for practical and affordable delivery systems of soil ameliorants to the subsoil – it is possible that this system may be physical or biological, but it must be able to work practically within the constraints of an existing vineyard or orchard system,” he explains.

Andrew plans on visiting the USA to study great plain grasses and see new deep ripping technology, Israel to inspect irrigation technology, as well as France and South Africa.

AGWA supports a competitive wine sector by investing in research, development and extension, growing international markets and protecting the reputation of Australian wine.

“The partnership between AGWA and Nuffield Australia encourages talented Australians to contribute to the grape and wine community.

We’re proud to support Andrew’s work that will add to the intellectual health of our sector and the environmental health of our soils,” says AGWA acting Chief Executive Andreas Clark.

Nuffield Australia is an organisation which provides an opportunity to Australian farmers to travel overseas on an agricultural research scholarship. It is a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel. The next groups will be travelling through New Zealand, Brazil, USA, Mexico, the UK, South Africa, Kenya and Europe in March-April 2015.

Andrew is available for interviews to talk about his planned study.  Mobile: 0417 371 139

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