We recently went to Marlborough and looked at the application of organic matter and compost in local vineyards and how it affects soil health. We brought along expert and soil consultant, Geoff Warmouth who gave us insights into the different soil types in the vineyards.
One of the biggest issues is the variation in soils. The same vineyard can have heavy clays at one end and stony soils at the other. Either way, what we discovered is that with the application of organic matter, you can greatly increase the holding capacity of moisture in the soil.
Going back to the basics:
4 things you need to create consistent vine growth:
- Sand, silt or clay
- Organic content/compost
Without these vital factors you may discover your vines aren’t getting the nutrients they need to grow to their full potential. This can lead to inconsistent vine growth and evidentially inconsistent wine.
“from a vineyards point of view, the more consistent the product the better. The bigger the root mass, the more energy it can store, the less stress with heat, the more consistency for the vineyard owner”.
How the application of organic matter helps soil health
We found that soil without the application of organic matter was not getting the spread of moisture it needed to expand its root mass, whereas the soil with the application of organic matter was showing a greater spread or moisture that grew a deeper root structure for the plant. This relieves stress on the plant especially in those hotter months and allows it to use its energy in other areas.
With organic matter “the water drip is coming in and we’re covering a greater surface area and because we’ve got a greater surface area the moisture is now creating this teardrop underneath the root zone so the roots can spread out. If there was no holding capacity in the soil it would just be a little round circle, around about the size of a tennis ball on the surface and it would just run into a downpipe and disappear”.
Above and below the surface
A healthy plant has large-sized leaves which act as solar panels for the plant. These leaves work together with the roots mass to provide energy for the plant to grow. If there is not enough moisture for the root mass to expand then there is not enough root mass for the leaves to grow. They are a mirror image of each other so you can generally tell above the soil if you are having problems below.
Every vineyard may have different reasons for needing the aid of compost. Some want weed suppression, some want moisture retention, and others want to re-establish their organic content in the ground. Either way, if you choose to re-establish your organic content you will successfully solve all of the above.
“So when we want weed control or water suppression, people tend to put on too much and the trick to it is to do a little and often and get it working so that it’s actually utilised into the ground so by changing the soil structure, we change the weeds as well.”
Wholesale Landscapes offers a variety of organic solutions to sustainably create world-class wine.
Contact one of our friendly staff today to have a chat about how we can help your vineyard grow – 0800 421 000
Watch our soil health series here.