Dr Rob Bramley uses an understanding of vineyard variability to tailor winegrowing for specific goals.
Dr Rob Bramley: understanding variability in agricultural production
With a particular focus on winegrape, sugarcane and cereal production, Dr Rob Bramley’s research focuses on understanding and managing variability in agricultural production systems for economic and environmental benefits.
21 June 2006 | Updated 1 May 2012
Dr Rob Bramley is a Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO’s Agricultural and Forest Ecosystems program and is the Site Leader for CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems in Adelaide, South Australia.
He leads research on vineyard variability and precision viticulture in the Food Futures Flagship and on the application of precision agriculture in sugarcane and cereal production in the Sustainable Agriculture Flagship.
Dr Bramley's research interests are in understanding how knowledge of variability in the biophysical environment in which crops are grown can be used to tailor crop production and subsequent processing to meet yield, quality and environmental targets.
He has been involved in precision agriculture research since 1996, and over the last 10 years in particular, has been instrumental in the development of precision viticulture techniques and zonal vineyard management.
He led research in this area for the former Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Viticulture with much of his current work contributing to the CSIRO Food Futures Flagship’s Wine Flavour and Aroma theme.
Dr Bramley believes that precision agriculture should be regarded as a generic approach to crop production in which spatial information about the production system is used to make better management decisions than would be possible without that information.
Dr Bramley has been involved in the development of Precision Viticulture techniques and zonal vineyard management since 1999.
For example, a precision viticulture approach to winegrape production recognises that because a vineyard is variable in terms of soil properties and topography, managing it as though it is uniform, as in the conventional approach, is unlikely to deliver the best outcomes. Instead, high resolution spatial information about the land and vine performance is used to identify areas for differential management.
This approach is likely to deliver benefits to grapegrowers and winemakers in terms of more efficient use of production inputs and natural resources and reduced risk of on-farm and off-farm degradation.
Of particular importance is the fact that it also provides opportunities for product differentiation and improved responsiveness to market demand through the use of selective harvesting.
The potential opportunities presented by selective harvesting are also the focus of his current research in the grains industry which seeks to help barley growers to maximise their opportunity to obtain price premiums for meeting malting grade.
In the late 1990's, Dr Bramley was involved in early work which sought to apply precision agriculture in sugarcane production systems.
Industry circumstances at the time meant that this work did not proceed, but Dr Bramley is now once again leading research which seeks to equip the sugar industry with the expertise to extract both value and environmental benefit from the use of precision agriculture approaches.
Dr Bramley has a background in agricultural and environmental science and studied soil science with an emphasis on soil fertility in England and New Zealand.
Since joining CSIRO in 1990, he has worked on the:
chemistry and fertility of soil phosphorus in the grain-growing systems of Western Australia and the sugarcane production systems of North Queensland, Australia
impact of rural land use on water quality in the Herbert River region of North Queensland
development of precision agriculture for winegrape, sugarcane and grain production systems.
Dr Bramley has been awarded the following qualifications:
Bachelor of Science with Honours in Soil and Land Resource Science from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 1985
Doctor of Philosophy in Soil Science from Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 1989.
Dr Bramley is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Dr Bramley has made invited keynote presentations on Precision Agriculture and Precision Viticulture in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, France, Germany and the United States of America.
He was one of the founding committee members of SPAA - Precision Agriculture Association and was on the editorial advisory committee of the Australian Journal of Soil Research until its restructure in 2010.
He is currently a member of the international scientific committee of the Journal International des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin and is an Associate Editor of the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research.
He was a participant in the 2009 Wine Industry ‘Future Leaders’ program and was the ‘Liquorland Top 100’ Fellow at the Marlborough Wine Research Centre in 2009-10.
He is also a member of Foster’s Wines’ Expert Advisory Group on Sustainable Wine Production.
Dr Bramley is a member of the following professional associations:
Australian Society of Soil Science
Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology
Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council.
He is also currently Chair of the CSIRO Urrbrae Site Management Committee.
Find out more about CSIRO's research into Grapes & Wine and Sugar.