THE MIA is set to be included in new research that explores the use of nature's ecosystem services in farming practices.
Specifically this will involve grape growers speaking with Anne Johnson, a PhD student from Charles Sturt University who was recently named the recipient of Wine Australia's Dr Tony Jordan Award.
Mrs Johnson said her PhD through the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre will study the adoption of agroecology - the use of nature's ecosystem services in farming practices - to understand what discourages growers from embracing its use more broadly.
"I'll be interviewing some grape growers and looking to understand their experiences towards agroecology and whether they have been attempting different practices and what their experiences have been with that," she said.
"Or, whether they have been experiencing problems in trying to make those changes.
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"I'm hoping to see a bit of a contrast in what growers are reporting to me, but if there isn't then that's an answer in itself.
"There's lots of differences in terms of climate. Viticulture is very much climate driven. Markets are also very different.
"Grapes here in Orange where I am based tend to sell for very high prices, but that is not always the case for those down in the Riverina.
"That might make it difficult when you want to make big changes (on farm) when you're uncertain about pricing."
Mrs Johnson's research will contribute to the increasing body of work on sustainability for the Australian grape and wine community and will help the industry to better understand how it can adapt to be more resilient to future challenges.
I'm hoping to see a bit of a contrast in what growers are reporting to me, but if there isn't then that's an answer in itself.Anne Johnson
She said in her experience the viticulture industry as a whole wanted to improve its sustainability.
"As do the growers, it's not just about image ... they want to do it themselves and leave their farms in better conditions for the next generation," Mrs Johnson said.
Mrs Johnson is hopeful of visiting the MIA region within the coming months so growers here can be included in her research and eventual thesis.
"It's exciting to see changes being made and environmental improvements being made ... a lot of it is farmer trial and error," she said.
Mrs Johnson will soon travel to the region to speak with growers.
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