A virtual fence will be placed around some of the Barossa’s most valuable vineyards as part of a pilot program launched in December 2016 to safeguard South Australia’s $1.78 billion wine industry from pests, disease and weeds.

boundary-riderAn initiative of Vinehealth Australia and supported by Barossa Grape and Wine Association, the program named Project Boundary Rider uses an app to track the movements of people across a virtual boundary (geofence), via GPS on their smartphones, and records it in real-time. The grape grower is provided with an immediate and reliable online visitor record book of anyone with the app who has moved across that geofence. This database of information will be invaluable if a pest or disease outbreak occurs.

About 30 winegrowers located in Barossa and McLaren Vale are participating in the pilot program, including renowned local grapegrowers and winemakers such as Henschke Cellars, Torbreck Vintners, St Hallett Wines, Dorrien Winemaking, Charles Melton Wines and Scholz Estate.

“I can see many great opportunities in this pilot program, especially to get some valuable data and a better understanding of the people moving throughout our vineyards as we suspect there are a lot more than we actually know about,” Henschke Viticulturist Prue Henschke said.

“The health of our vines is paramount and we are always looking for new and improved ways to ensure their longevity, and therefore view this ground breaking project with much anticipation and excitement.”

BGWA CEO James March says Project Boundary Rider is an exciting pilot program to be supporting.

“The Barossa has a long and distinguished heritage, and its name has been synonymous with winemaking since the first settlers came to the Barossa in the 1840s. They knew there was something special about the area and worked hard to preserve it, and we as the current custodians, have that responsibility now,” James says.

“This geofencing technology can help our grape growers to protect their valuable vineyards and to track some key data which is critical during an outbreak of pest or disease.”

Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Pearce said it was continually looking at ways to minimise the risk of pest and diseases, particularly phylloxera, in South Australian vineyards.

“Looking to technology like geofencing, the Project Boundary Rider app is key when considering ways to protect one of our state’s biggest assets – our vines,” she said.

“Not only does it provide real-time data to growers, but this data can be quickly analysed according to specified parameters and then mapped for predicted pest or disease spread.”

The pilot will run until mid 2017 and is funded by Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (Biosecurity SA), as well as supported by Barossa Grape and Wine Association and McLaren Vale Grape and Wine Tourism Association.

For more information about the Project Boundary Rider pilot program, please visit www.vinehealth.com.au.