AKA ‘How Green is our Cactus’ by Andrew Pike
We have just made another significant addition to our impressive ‘Green List’ with the acquisition of a FMR 3000R vineyard sprayer. This machine deploys the latest in spray application technology to more efficiently apply chemicals to the vine canopy.
It uses a tangential fan system to provide a complete curtain of high volume, but low pressure air across the whole canopy. The result is a much more even coverage. In addition, because the curtain of air is delivered from a tangential fan spinning on a vertical axis immediately prior to the outlet, the air is already spinning like a ‘mini tornado’ when it is directed at the canopy. This causes the leaves to flutter in the air stream and creates even distribution of droplets to both sides of the leaves and clusters.
However, the real bonus is in the ability to capture and reuse the spray liquid which does not ‘stick’ to the canopy. The FMR ‘R series’ sprayer operates on the unique principle of creating a revolving vortex of air stream and spray droplets between the opposing spray shrouds. Any spray material that does not stick to the vine canopy and would otherwise be lost into the environment (off target) is pulled back with the intake of the opposing fan and drawn into the recycling shroud. The recycled spray material is then captured, filtered and re-introduced back into the spray tank, producing significant savings in chemical use, labour and fuel.
On our first spray application this year, our estimated savings over the 100ha of vineyard sprayed were at least 40% in chemical use and more than 25% in labour and fuel use, compared to the old conventional application technology. Over a full season this new technology will deliver major cost savings and also improve our intrinsic pest and disease control capability. It will also significantly reduce losses of ‘off target’ spray particles, which is a great result for the environment.
Other items on the Pikes ‘Green List’ include;
- Fully accredited Winery Waste Water recycling program
- Approved composting program for all winery solid wastes
- Undervine straw mulching and composting program
- Ongoing native vegetation replanting program
- State-of-the-art irrigation technology designed to minimise irrigation use.
- Rainwater harvesting: we have in total 1.75 million litres of rain water storage.
- A business-wide recycling program aimed to reduce waste at every opportunity.
- A 75 kW solar system installed on the winery’s roof.
There are tangible and real environmental benefits arising from all of these programs. We continually look for better ways to work and in doing so, instill and support the ethos of responsible environmental management and behaviors into all our people and our practices.