Dr Mary Retallack is currently spearheading a collective movement within the wine community with her project EcoVineyards, earning her a spot in the top three finalists for the Bob Hawke Landcare Award.
“I’m pretty proud of the opportunity in terms of recognition. It’s a culmination of the 20-year vision I’ve had,” Dr Retallack said.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to really showcase the fantastic work that the wine community is collectively doing.”
The Bob Hawke Landcare Award is inspired by former Australian Prime Minister the Hon. Bob Hawke AC after he declared a “Decade of Landcare” in 1989, making landcare a national movement.
It is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to natural resource management and sustainable agriculture. The winner receives a prize package to the value of $50,000 for further development of their knowledge and skills in sustainable land management.
Retallack’s EcoVineyards incorporates native insectary plants in and around vineyards to provide food and habitat for “good bugs” and microbats as a form of biocontrol for the vineyard insect pest population, instead of using chemicals.
The insectary sites also have a variety of other benefits including increased functional biodiversity and improved soil health, which help local vineyards save time and resources in their quests to produce healthy grapes and reduce pests.
“We’ve been working across eight of the major wine regions in South Australia over the last three years and we’ve set up 43 demonstration sites,” Retallack said.
EcoVineyards is funded by the National Landcare Smart Farms Small Grants and is in collaboration with the Wine Grape Council of South Australia and 60 other partner organisations.
“Most recently, just in the last month, we’ve partnered with Wine Australia to take that state-based program national, so we’re in the process of rolling out a national EcoVineyards program at the moment,” Retallack said.
She said they will be working in 10 wine regions throughout Australia and setting up an additional 40 demonstration sites.
They will be working very closely with winegrowers to help future-proof the production and the resilience in and around those vineyards throughout Australia.
Retallack said she was delighted to be recognised in the same company as the two other finalists, Bruce Maynard and Geoff Bassett, both from New South Wales.
Maynard is one of Australia’s leading innovators in agriculture and created the No Kill Cropping System, which involves dry-sowing crops onto existing pastures instead of using tillage, fertiliser or other chemicals.
Bassett is a nationally recognised specialist in agriculture and soil health. He founded Farm Mojo, where he works with farmers across Australia to improve their farms through various practices such as creating soil fertility programs that help farmers restore their farm’s vitality and productivity.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Murray Watt, said that he was impressed by the calibre of this year’s finalists and their groundbreaking accomplishments.
“The work of Dr Retallack, Maynard and Bassett could not be more important. These finalists are the leaders and innovators paving the way for Australia’s sustainable farming future,” Minister Watt said.
“Their achievements show exactly why farmers, graziers and land managers across Australia need to be part of the conversation on how to address the climate crisis and improve sustainability. Their forward-thinking approach to agriculture is exactly what we need to build resilience and improve environmental outcomes.”Jump to next article