Who is the Dirt Dude?
GIMME A MINUTE TO WASH UP AND I'LL SHAKE YOUR HAND.
You could say farming is in my blood. I spent my childhood on a mixed farm, focused on dairy. I helped Mum tend to our huge veggie patch and chased chooks into their run at the end of each long day, keeping them safe from foxes after sundown. On weekends I’d lug heavy buckets of milk to feed the calves while Dad was busy milking cows, fixing fences, cutting hay, harvesting, shearing sheep…
As is often the case when you understand the time, effort and resources taken to produce something, living off the land nurtured my love and respect for food.
Like most journeys through career and life, mine didn’t run in a straight line. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a chef, but with my agricultural background, a keen interest in science and a taste for all things culinary, I was led to viticulture and the wine industry. Soon enough, my passion for dairy and the food industry returned, and I enjoyed a few years working as cheese-maker (though surprisingly not expanding my waistline) in Australia and France. It was there, in the picturesque French Alps, making Beaufort and taking in the smell of the earth and the rhythmic clanging cowbells, I was drawn back to what had been in my blood all along; soil, viticulture, and wine.
A prestigious Nuffield Scholarship gave me the opportunity to explore international viticulture and agricultural industries. I met with farmers, big and small, mainstream and alternative, and a common thread quickly emerged; everyone has a story to tell. It’s the stories within the agricultural sector that create a rich tapestry of diversity and change.
The dirt dude conversations are where industry champions can share ideas, innovations, and experiences. And if anything can Steer AGriculture and Business through challenges toward a promising future, it’ll be their generosity, passion, and insight.
Agriculture is often about tenure. It’s an industry built on the back of the arduous work of previous generations who’ve learned the ways of the land and passed their knowledge and resources to the next. We’ve worked bloody hard, and the time has come for us farmers to work smarter to ensure sustainable farming businesses for future generations.
From the peach crops of Gui Jou, China, to wine vineyards of Bordeaux, France, to cranberry bogs of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, it’s time to dish the dirt.
Planting a vineyard, want to improve your vineyard or desire greater resilience in your vineyard?
planting a vineyard?
The thought of planting a vineyard can incite a certain level of anxiety, as it is such a long term investment. Considered, informed decisions made prior to planting can ensure that the vineyard is designed to optimise financial returns and the productivity of the land. Understanding the capability of your land and climate is the first step in making these decisions with confidence, allowing you to breathe easier.
Soil types and variation.
Varieties, rootstock and clones.
Trellis and irrigation.
Improving your vineyard performance?
The impact of weather, seasonal variation and market variability are all issues our of your control, yet all are capable of keeping you awake, staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night. Sustainable production and stewardship motivating ideals for many, and the key to a sustainable vineyard is balancing environmental stewardship with profitability. Effective crop protection, irrigation and pruning management can ensure a healthy product is delivered to the market all while while leaving a gentle environmental footprint. Profitability is often about understanding where the opportunities already exist within your vineyard. It is about increasing value and improving returns at minimal cost.
Building greater resilience in your vineyard
The best wines are made from grapes who have survived the challenges of the season to reach the winery in peak condition. Healthy grapes need healthy vines. The healthiest vines are those which are resilient to the stresses of the season. Improving soil health, maintaining clean vine material and on farm biosecurity adoption are all ways of building resilience within your vineyard.