What is GrapeFACE about?

Grapevine productivity, water use efficiency, phenology and pest and disease responses are likely to be impacted by climate change over the next 20 to 50 years. Over this time frame, more frequent  drought, high temperature events, elevated day and  night time temperature are all predicted scenarios. These climate scenarios are driven by elevated CO2  which will also have direct effects on vine physiology and viticultural outcomes. Recent reports of global carbon emissions indicate we can expect 450ppm by 2025 and 550 ppm by 2050 an effective doubling of pre-industrial  CO2   (Raupach et al 2007)


It is possible to artificially elevate CO2 concentration and night time temperature using various methodologies, each with different desirable and undesirable characteristics. A free-air CO2 enrichment facility (FACE) to create a microclimate similar to those predicted for the future is the best methodology.  FACE has shown that trees and shrubs are very responsive to elevated CO2 and it is likely that grapevines will fall into this category (Ainsworth and Long, 2005).An AGO workshop in Canberra in  May 2005 reached similar conclusions regarding the FACE methodology which resulted in the jointing funding(GRDC and AGO) and establishment by of a national FACE grains array at Horsham led by the University of Melbourne.  Preliminary work on grapevine productivity using a FACE in Italy has shown that such a system is feasible for grapevines (Bindi et al., 2001a; Bindi et al., 2001b), but these experiments have been discontinued.  More information is required for different varieties, over a longer term, and for many other aspects of grapevine performance relevant to Australian conditions, particularly in response to drought conditions and episodes of high temperature. Also there is increasing interest in understanding the greenhouse gas footprint of grapevine cultivation, and in this respect projects that investigate nitrogen use efficiency and NO2 emission and soil carbon sequestration are very important.

A facility that allows elevation of CO2 and temperature at reasonable running costs, with productivity monitoring and on-line monitoring of basic grapevine performance will allow other projects concerned with predicted climate change to utilise the facility.  Portable field chambers for elevation of day-time temperature are already being used by CSIRO and SARDI but do not have the capacity to provide episodes of high night time temperature. It would be worthwhile adding to these facilities with additional treatments and experimentation.  The facilities would also link in with a proposed global array of monitored vines and wines that is being proposed by UC Davis.  The climate scenario 2030 facility will become a focus for national and international collaborations. In addition there are likely to be other projects that would utilise the facility. 


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