Bats could be the perfect pairing for vineyard insect control

Are bats a natural way to control pests in vineyards? A University of New England project is attempting to answer this question.

The project, led by Dr Zenon Zenze, who won the Wine Australia Award in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Science, and Innovation Awards, is the first of its kind to examine the diet and habitat of bats that eat insects in Australian vineyards.

The project is designed to test if increasing the number of bat roosts in vineyards and other areas can improve pest control.

Dr Czenze explained that insectivorous bats are capable of consuming up to 100% of their body weight in insects every night. It is, therefore, important to understand which insects they prefer in the vineyard and how much they consume key pests like light brown apple moths.

The research team includes Dr. Heidi Kolkert and honors students Kate Rankin and Kat Stewart. They have established partnerships with New South Wales vineyards that will serve as study sites for capturing bats, collecting fecal samples, and using DNA analysis to determine the bats’ diet.

Kate and Kat conducted fieldwork at two vineyards on the Tablelands in the last six months: Petersons Armidale Winery, Guesthouse, and Toppers Mountain Wines.

The Australian Genomics Research Facility will be analyzing DNA samples of fecal specimens collected from bats that were caught in remnant patches of forest.

Dr Czenze said, “This will enable us to determine which insects make up the bats’ diet.”

The bats were also fed nocturnal insects, which they compared to their diet to determine whether the bats were eating whatever was available or if certain species of bats were being targeted.

The team is also recording nightly acoustic echolocation calls in the vineyard to identify the species of bats present and their behavior during the growing seasons.

Both Dr Kolkert and I are bat biologists who have more than ten research years of experience. “Despite our love of wine, we didn’t expect that bats would pair so well with wine!” Dr Czenze stated.

Dr. Czenze has said that he found a lot of support among growers to reduce pesticides in their vineyards and adopt more sustainable farming methods.

Our project is designed to support this effort by working with vineyard growers to increase biodiversity and create habitats that will allow for natural pest management.

The study supports efforts in the region to increase functional diversity in and around vineyards as part of the national eco vineyards program.

South Korea will be Australia’s 10th largest export destination in terms of value, with 4.7 million liters worth A$ 44.3 million.

The Australian Food and Wine Collaboration Group has targeted this market as the second most promising export market after the highly successful market campaign in Thailand last summer. Vietnam and Indonesia are scheduled to follow in 2023-24.

The Australian Food and Wine Trade collaboration was formed to promote high-quality Australian foods and beverages in key international markets. Dairy Australia is one of the members, and Hort Innovation is another. Meat & Livestock Australia (M&LA), Wine Australia, and Seafood Industry Australia are also funding partners.

Red wine in small amounts or moderate quantities can be beneficial to your health. There are some negative effects to be aware of, as discussed below.

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