Winner – Innovation Category


For stainless steel agricultural trellising and fencing systems that is guaranteed for life



Wooden poles are predominately used for agricultural trellising in South Africa, while abroad the practice is being phased out. This is because in many parts of the world wood supply has become scarce, while documented studies into the preservatives used to treat wooden poles have also raised alarm bells and been part of the motivation to curb the use of treated wooden poles.

Creosote has typically been used to treat wood. These preservatives contain toxins that in some instances have been known to leach into soil or ground water and could be associated with the contamination of grown produce quality, which in wine is referred to as cork taint.

Steel trellising has been widely accepted and used in Europe, USA and Australia.

Ecostake is a local company that produces the Vinestake as a sustainable solution for agricultural trellising and the Electrostake for fencing applications.The patented stainless steel system was accredited in 2007 with an SABS Design Excellence Award for the commercially viable advantages it provides.

Ecostake’s fencing includes durability and being ‘universal in application’ to provide the user with great lifecycle cost savings benefits. The stakes can also be recycled and
come with a ‘guaranteed for life’ benefit.

Jamii Hamlin, the founder and managing director, outlines the company’s vision saying, “Environomics is a term that best describes Ecostake’s objectives to equally deliver environmental sustainability and an economically viable product offering to reverse the disposable consumer acceptance of planned obsolescence.

”He elaborates on the company’s innovative solution, “The user friendly benefits of the Vinestake system are holistic in their offering.The system is clinically appropriate for sensitive biological environments. biodynamic or organic applications, compatible with harvesting machinery, suitable for overhead trellising of table grapes or other stone fruit produce. It also yields greater cost efficiency, with tailored solutions specified according to farmers’ application requirements.

“Made from stainless steel, with a life expectancy of 25 years or more, Vinestake provides for excellent carbon footprint benefits and as a re-usable material it provides a
residual return at the end of its service.”

Hartenberg Estate is a prime example of the migration to sustainable trellising in response to the concerns about cork taint associated with the use of organic chlorate, or arsenic used in treating wooden poles, as well as the sustainability of alien forestry resources.

In 2005 the farm management decided to do a trial test of the Vinestake and since then all new plantings have been staked this way, despite the perception of the loss of traditional vineyard aesthetics.

Hartenberg’s acclaimed winemaker, Carl Schultz, had this to say about the aesthetic debate: “Vineyard aesthetics are a non-issue in the long-term, when weighed up against the advantages of this new technology.”

He said: “Growing trees (for, among other things, wooden poles), consumes 400 to 600 litres of water per day per tree in the growing season. In a country which is already water scarce, it does not make sense.

“The impact stemming from the preservatives used to treat vineyard poles is also an environmental concern. It is about preserving our natural resources by using a cleaner alternative that is re-usable and more durable,” he concluded.

While this tainting effect is difficult to distinguish, it could have a negative impact on the desirability of the produce and ultimately discerning consumers might avoid purchasing or consuming produce that is considered to be tainted or associated with environmental malpractice.

To address the concern of wooden poles, Ecostake has undertaken to produce a holistic and universally adaptable system for all agriculture trellising and fencing applications. They offer sterile and sustainable advantages for environmentally sensitive use. The product is durable, reusable and allows for recycling to provide a user with a viable solution for emerging environmental realities

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