Rapid damage assessment and grapevine recovery after fire

There is increasing scientific consensus that climate changeis the underlying cause of the prolonged dry and hot conditions that have increased the risk of extreme fire weather in many countries around the world. In December 2019, a bushfire event occurred in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia where 25,000 hectares were burnt and in vineyards and surrounding areas various degrees of scorching and infrastructure damage occurred. The ability to coordinate and plan recovery after a fire event relies on robust and timely data. The current practice for measuring the scale and distribution of fire damage is to walk or drive the vineyard and score individual vines based on visual observation. The process is time consuming, subjective, or semi-quantitative at best. After the December 2019 fires, it took many months to access properties and estimate the area of vineyard damaged. This study compares the rapid assessment and mapping of fire damage using high-resolution satellite imagery with more traditional ground based measures. Satellite imagery tracking vineyard recovery in the season following the bushfire is being correlated to field assessments of vineyard productivity such as canopy health and development, fertility and carbohydrate storage. Canopy health in the seasons following the fires correlated to the severity of the initial fire damage. Severely damaged vines had reduced canopy growth, were infertile or had very low fertility as well as lower carbohydrate levels in buds and canes during dormancy, which reduced productivity in the seasons following the bushfire event. In contrast, vines that received minor damage were able to recover within 1-2 years. Tools that rapidly and affordably capture the extent and severity of damage over large vineyard area will allow producers, government and industry bodies to manage decisions in relation to fire recovery planning, coordination and delivery, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their response.

Authors: Cassandra Collins1,2, Annette James1, Jingyun Ouyang3, Andy Clarke3, Sebastien Wongand Michaela Ritchie3

1School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
2ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, Waite Research Institute, Adelaide, Australia
3Consilium Technology Pty Ltd, Adelaide, Australia

Email: cassandra.collins@adelaide.edu.au

Keywords: scorching, satellite imagery, productivity, vineyard recovery, fertility

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