Healthy Soil Healthy People

Meeting demand for Yield + Quality

29 November 2017

With growing demand for wine grapes in recent years, Lake Side Vines planned to increase yields to take advantage of the improved prices. While owners Shannon and Nicole Ubergang were focused on yield improvement, the quality of the fruit has also seen improvements in grade and increased returns.

Lake Side Vines covers 17 hectares of vineyard with varieties Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Shiraz. A period of low demand for wine grapes led to management decisions to minimise inputs over two seasons, at the end of 2015 harvest, average yields had dropped by 50%.

As a result of integrating biological fertilisers into their input program Shannon comments “yields have improved to 20% above average in the past two vintages and the current season vineyard inspection is indicating a further increase of 20% again.”

Fertiliser Management

Addressing the yield potential of the vines, in addition to their ability to ripen the fruit was the objective when Lake Side Vines began working with LawrieCo on their fertiliser program at the start of 2016 season. Mildura based Area Sales Manager Rodney Capon works with Shannon and Nicole on integrating biological fertilisers to improve yield and quality outcomes, starting from the soil up.

Starting with soil and tissue analyses, the program included a granular NutriMAX blend for soil applications.

“We have a granular mix we apply as a post-harvest top up and have seen a change in the structure of the soil; it is softer and more friable. We have also noticed a lot more earthworms which is a sign we are heading in a good direction” Shannon comments.

The granular fertiliser includes essential phosphorus, nitrogen and sulphur plus soil conditioning to maximise nutrient availability and improve water use efficiency with the addition of humic and fulvic (concentrated carbons).

Foliar applications of fertiliser are included fortnightly from bud burst to 30 days before harvest, with a balanced range of nutrients.

Rodney explains “The aim is to include growth promoting nutrients such as NPK. While also adding other nutrients that balance the vine enabling it to ripen the higher fruit load. Specifically, we include calcium and silica in the fertiliser with NutriMAX PhosCal because it is linked to fruit quality and berry skin thickness.”

Yield, Quality and Balance Outcomes

Shannon has observed “our yields had dropped to well below average, so we expected it to take some time to rebuild the productivity. However, the results we have seen in the first two seasons are extremely promising. The first year we saw a significant increase back to average yields across the varieties followed last season by a further 20% improvement. Currently the fruit set and vine health would indicate a further yield increase for 2018 also.”

While Lake Side were focussing on yield, the quality of the fruit has also seen improvements.

“In 2017 we saw increased returns on the pinot gris attributed to both higher yield and quality. A three-step improvement in grade increased our contract price and we were able to supply to meet increased demand from the winery.

We also noticed a great improvement in the vine vitality, canopy growth and colour. Most importantly we look at the fruit set as often there are more bunches than the vine can handle – the canopy to fruit ratio is important for finishing the fruit and while fruit set is high, the vines are looking balanced so we are expecting a good finish to 2018 vintage.”




Lakeside Fertiliser Program

Broad Cast

Dormancy  NutriMAX Guano and Humate Prill

Fertigation    Applied every 7 - 14 days

Bud Burst  SureCROP VAM 

Bud Burst to 2 weeks pre harvest

NutriMAX PhosCal

BioMAX Liquid Fulvic

BioMAX Foliar Kelp

SOA  and Magnesium Sulphate

Post Harvest 

NutriMAX PhosCal

BioMAX Liquid Fulvic

Sulphate of Ammonia (SOA)

Foliar Nutrition Applied every 10 - 14 days

3 Leaf Stage to flowering

NutriMAX PhosCal

NutriMAX Growth

BioMAX Liquid Fulvic

HumiPLEX Trace

Magnesium Sulphate

Flowering to 2 weeks Pre Harvest

As above, remove NuriMAX Growth