Financial comparisons of under-vine management systems in four South Australian vineyard districts*

Tom Nordblom, Christopher Penfold, Melanie Whitelaw-Weckert, Mark Norton, Jake Howie, Timothy Hutchings

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Abstract

Conventional viticultural practice in Australia and elsewhere involves removal of
under-vine vegetation using herbicides or cultivation. Concerns over the long-term effects of herbicides on soil health, evolution of resistant weeds and possible impacts on human health motivate the search for alternative weed management options. Industry-supported trials on commercial vineyards in four South Australian regions investigated standard practices of straw mulch and bare earth created with herbicides, compared to under-vine cover crops, focusing on soil health attributes (soil carbon, soil microbiological processes, etc.) and grape yields in 2016 and 2017. Measured yields with the Control (herbicide) treatment were combined with published district grape prices and yields over the 12-year (2006–2017) period, defining multivariate distributions of gross revenues ($/ha). Assuming all treatments produce grapes of equal quality and price as the Control, our results showed median per-hectare gross margins greater than the Control in the Barossa district, lower than Control in Riverland, and mixed results in Langhorne Creek and Eden Valley. Multi-year risk profiles, based on decadal whole-farm (50 ha) cash flows for each treatment, were calculated using Monte Carlo analysis, based on historical yield and price distributions. These risk profiles showed the under-vine treatments may result in major differences in long-term vineyard financial viability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-263
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Volume65
Issue number1
Early online date21 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Grant Number

  • Wine Australia Project Number: UA 1303

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