Science: The effects of climate change on Chile’s vineyards

A summary of Latin America’s top science stories brought to you in partnership with LatinAmericanScience.org

Chilean scientists looking at climate change and viticulture

An international study on the effects of climate change on winemaking is underway in Chile, Australia and Spain.

Entitled Winery of the Future, the research will measure “everything that is happening in the plant,” says Samuel Ortega, an agricultural engineer at Chile’s Universidad de Talca who is part of the project.

Vineyards require a fine balance of sunlight, night-time temperature drops, watering, and pruning (among other factors) to yield the best crop.

But how are the world’s wine-growing regions responding to changes in the climate that suits them best? Ortega researches the response of grapevines in Chile’s central valley and has seen his country’s wine-producing region shift south due to rising temperatures.

“Chile’s central zone will stop being good for growing red wines and we’re going to be pushed south,” said Ortega in a piece in Mexico’s El Universal. The wine industry will face a complex future, Ortega says, which is why wine producers should start experimenting with other grapes.

Peruvian farmers reviving ancient agriculture techniques

Farmers faced with drought in Peru’s highlands are resorting to ancient farming techniques to survive.

Using small reservoirs that recharge aquifers, farmers near Puno in southern Peru are learning ancient methods of irrigation and in turn teaching them to the young.

“With the help of the engineers and listening to our grandparents, I am harvesting water where before there was only dry land,” says 62-year-old Juan Francisco Idme, in an article by Erik Struyf Palacios.

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