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DR RAMIN Rafiei has been awarded the $22,000 viticulture and oenology 2014 science and innovation award for young people in agriculture, sponsored by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC).

Rafiei, a research associate professor and senior instrumentation engineer at the University of Western Australia, will use his prize to develop a low-cost, light-weight, high-performance infrared spectrometer to detect grapevine water stress in real time.

Water stress of grapevines has a dramatic effect on the yield of grape vines, grape quality and the resulting wine.

Automated water stress detection before symptoms become visible is of great benefit to viticulturists.

Rafiei says this work will provide grapegrowers with a robust, portable automated measurement tool and will ultimately eliminate the need for manual monitoring to assess water stress.

“GWRDC supports the project’s focus on extension of research, making the work available to Australia viticulturists through a number of avenues to generate improved practices in the vineyard that will assist businesses to be more profitable and sustainable’, said GWRDC executive director Dr Stuart Thomson.

Raifei expects to conclude his research in April 2015 and a full report of research outcomes will be available on the GWRDC website following completion.

GWRDC is the principal sponsor of the viticulture and oenology award, which was one of 12 category awards presented last night by Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Barnaby Joyce at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Outlook 2014 Conference dinner.

Contact: Abbey Flanagan, communications coordinator, GWRDC. Phone: 61 8 8273 0500. Mobile: 61 0401 082 124.  Email: abbey@gwrdc.com.au