Collecting and disseminating information on agrochemicals
Governments around the world monitor residues of agrochemicals and set limits for the amounts that are legally allowed in foods, including grapes and wine. Up-to-date information on agrochemical management is needed to ensure that finished wines meet these limits and do not encounter trade barriers. This project aims to assist grape and wine producers to manage agrochemical residue levels in their products. This is achieved by collating and providing accurate and timely information on regulatory and technical aspects of chemicals registered for use in Australian viticulture and the maximum residue limit (MRL) requirements of those chemicals in domestic and key export markets.
Monitoring a dynamic regulatory environment
In 2020/2021, the project team reviewed 103 Sanitary and Phytosanitary notifications from the World Trade Organization and 29 gazettes issued by the APVMA. These reviews highlighted changes to MRLs for 10 key markets including Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Korea and Japan. During the year there were 44 notifications of MRL changes relevant to wine-grape production, the majority of which were inconsequential because the new MRLs did not require a change to the practices already recommended by the AWRI.
Each year, post-harvest, the project team reviews the latest information on agrochemicals by liaising with regulators, chemical manufacturers, suppliers and end-users. Best practice recommendations are then incorporated into a new version of the publication Agrochemicals registered for use in Australian viticulture (commonly known as the ‘Dog book’). A total of 6,000 copies of the 2021/2022 ‘Dog book’ were produced in June 2021 for distribution in July 2021. Updates were made to the online search portal and the smart phone agrochemical app, and an electronic version of the ‘Dog book’ was made available through the AWRI website.
Four new active constituents (eugenol, geraniol, thimol and fluopyram) were registered for use in wine-grape production for the first time. Because the compounds had not previously been used in viticulture in Australia, data on fermentation impacts, sensory effects and residues were required to assess the suitability of these compounds for use in wine production. Decisions about withholding periods to be included in the ‘Dog book’ were made by the Agrochemical Reference Group.
Following an April 2020 announcement by the European Union about mancozeb that signalled the phasing out of this active constituent, project staff worked with AWRI Commercial Services and Wine Australia to understand the scope of residues from this agrochemical in Australian wine. Seventy-nine wines were provided for analysis by Agrochemical Reference Group members, with data about the timing and number of mancozeb sprays used in their production. A further 21 wines were sourced from AWRI Commercial Services. The wines were analysed for carbon disulfide and ethylene thiourea (possible residues of mancozeb) with the work funded by Wine Australia. In addition, discussions about trials to identify a withholding period and use pattern for mancozeb that does not result in residues in wine were held with an agrochemical producer. The information gained from these activities improved understanding of the residues associated with the use of mancozeb and informed changes to the withholding period recommendations in the ‘Dog book’.
In a key achievement during the year, in conjunction with the digital tools project, the databases of agrochemical and MRL information were updated and merged into a single system. This change improved the functionality of the AWRI’s online search facility and agrochemical mobile apps, making it possible to perform agrochemical and MRL searches from a single platform. A new version of the agrochemical app was released in June 2021. Information on agrochemicals or pest and disease issues was provided to stakeholders via six eBulletins, including one in November 2020 discussing the biosecurity threat posed by fall armyworm and an update on late-season Botrytis control options in February 2021.