Meet the EcoGrowers
Phil Reilly - CMV Farms
Region: Langhorne Creek
1. Tell us about your experience in grape growing?
I started in the wine industry in 1994 as a vineyard hand and moved through the ranks to complete a diploma in vineyard management. I have been managing my current vineyard for 17 years.
I think it is important to understand both aspects of our industry so in 1999 I left the vineyard and spent 4 years travelling Australia and New Zealand. After years spent bottling wine, I felt the need to spend more time at home and get back into the vineyard.
2. What prompted you to want to be involved in the EcoVineyards project?
We have been rejuvenating native vegetation in and around our vineyard since it was first planted in 1998. As we planted more native vegetation my passion for the eco style of running a vineyard has continued to grow as we realise the benefits. It’s an ongoing cycle, we see better results in our vineyard from our native plants so we keep building our little ecosystem!
3. What do you hope to achieve from your involvement in the EcoVineyards project?
We want to continue to decrease the use of pesticides on our property as it becomes more stable with the existence of natural predators for vineyard pests. My ultimate goal is for a pesticide free vineyard and to continue this through the system to reduce chemical use in all areas.
4. Have you tried to increase biodiversity on your property before undertaking this project? If so, how?
We have a collection of indigenous seeds from the property and a native tree nursery that we have used to create kilometres of native plant corridors through and around the vineyard.
In addition to biodiversity, we have also invested in other eco friendly methods such as 3 row machinery to reduce fuel usage and irrigation infrastructure to avoid day time irrigation and the subsequent water loss through evaporation.
5. Why do you think it is so important for growers to try and build natural resilience on their property?
Working with nature is so much more satisfying. I believe that our natural environment and modern farming practices can work hand in hand to benefit the bottom line profit that we all strive for.
6. Looking to the future, what do you see as a new 'normal' for grape growers on their properties?
I think we will be using technology to help us better control water and irrigate only when plants require a drink. We will also be identifying the good bugs in our vineyards and looking after them better so they can help look after us. I also think soil knowledge will be a must and a better understanding of what to plant in each different type of soil.
This project is supported by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, through funding from Australian Government's National Landcare Program.