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Water treatment transforms table grapes

Posted on June 2, 2017 vineyard, salinity, water treatment, soil

A salty bore with high sodium and chloride levels was causing major headaches at the historic Swan Valley wine and table grape plantation Twin Hill Wines, established by Steve Kraljevich in the 1930s.

Steve’s grandson Stephen, who now runs the business with his brother Anthony, says leaf burn, poor water penetration and poor performance of fertilisers were wreaking havoc for around three hectares of seedless red and white table grapes they grow for supermarkets throughout Western Australia.

Stephen says a timely recommendation for the water treatment product developed by 100% Australian company DELTAwater solutions has turned things around. And he couldn’t be happier.

First there’s the yield. After installing a DELTAwater solutions Grade 5 unit, yield from one area jumped from 600-700 cases to 900 cases.

grapes, water treatment, salinity

Twin Hill Wines table grapes

The next obvious change was leaf burn. In the first year after installing the treatment system, the vines had less burn and in the second, no burn at all.

Penetration of water into the soil was the next change. Stephen says leaky mains that used to leave large puddles with white salt rings around the edge disappeared. “After installing the DELTA we no longer had the big puddles and noticed the water was penetrating way better. The white marks the salty water used to leave on the ground disappeared completely in places.”

Another noticeable change was the amount of water needed to achieve the desired growth and colour, with the added benefit of less fertiliser use. “We used to have to put a lot of fertiliser on to get the vines the right colour, and we’ve noticed we’re using less now to get them growing how we want them to. They are greener and picking up the fertiliser a lot better since installing the DELTA water treatment system.”

DELTAwater solutions tested the table grape bore through their Water Advisory Service. Results showed very high, Class 4 Salinity (3600 Electrical Conductivity (EC)), extremely high Sodium (700 mg/l), extremely high Chloride (520 mg/l), extremely high Sodium Absorption Ratio (25.63), high Alkalinity (400 mg/l) and moderate Hardness (142 ppm). Grapes will tolerate salinity levels of up to 1200 EC but not thrive. Understanding his water enabled them to make the right product recommendation.

After two years using the DELTA water treatment system, Stephen undertook independent testing of his vine leaves prior to flowering, called a Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI) test, to see if the vines were absorbing salt from the bore.

“Although the results were speaking for themselves, I wanted an unbiased, independent test to track how the DELTA water treatment system was working in terms of salt absorption,” Stephen says. “The person who did the test didn’t know I was treating the water with a DELTA. The results backed up what I knew. The sodium and chloride levels in the leaves were at the very very low end of the scale – so low they weren’t an issue at all. Obviously the vine wasn’t picking up the salt because of the DELTA. When my neighbours found out they installed a DELTA and are now seeing the results for themselves.”

vineyard, salinity, soil

Stephen Kraljevich checks his vines in winter, ready for them to flourish thanks to the DELTA water treatment

DELTAwater solutions founding director Dianne Panov, who has visited Twin Hill Wines in person, says the changes at the vineyard since installing the DELTA water treatment system were in line with her expectations.

“When we first tested the bore we knew DELTA treatment would address the range of issues the salty water was causing. We were also pleased to see the results of the PRI test Stephen did after two years of using DELTA-treated water on his grapes. It’s always great to see the changes for yourself and we are rapt with the results our water treatment system is achieving for Twin Hill Vines,” she said.

  • Salinity is the accumulation of salts in soil and water. Salinity affects production in crops, pastures and trees by interfering with nitrogen uptake, reducing growth and stopping plant reproduction. For grapes, the effect of increasing salinity is first observed by reduced vine growth followed by a decline in vine yield.