Following UAV, (drone), mapping, (which utilises infrared scanning to identify areas of a vineyard where organic matter is lacking and soil water retention is low), one Marlborough vineyard decided last year, that an application of compost was required to address these issues. The timing could not have been better given Marlborough has just seen its driest year since 2001-2002.
Record low rainfall coupled with very high temperatures over the summer period saw river levels fall and water resources in the district become seriously affected, with many irrigators placed on restrictions or unable to take any water from the beginning of February. Some vineyard operators were forced to bring water from Blenheim in tankers to water their grapes, with up to 800 cubic metres being transported to vineyards every day.
Young vines, with shallow root systems, are particularly vulnerable to dry conditions. Some vineyards reported entire blocks of young vines being put at risk due to the drought. Marlborough soil is inherently stony and adding organic matter, by way of compost, is beneficial to soil condition and its ability to retain moisture generally, and crucially, in the event of dry periods.
Pictured: young vines which, due to water restrictions, had only 10% of their normal irrigation amount in the previous 4 weeks. As a result of having HortGro Compost applied earlier in the year, they weathered the drought well, with their canopies still maintaining healthy dark green leaves.
The unedited photo, above, shows young vines which came through the recent drought unscathed due to improved water retention in the soil from earlier application of compost on the 6th October 2018.
The beneficial effect of compost in vineyards is long-lasting, with the slow release of nutrients to the soil improving soil quality for up to 36 months, improving crop yield and quality.
Pictured: A control area where composting was not applied to the vineyard. The leaf colour is lighter green in colour compared to vines where HortGro Compost was applied.
Pictured: An area where composting was applied within the vineyard. This area was susceptible to drought prior to an application of compost. It is now one of the thriving areas with a darker green and strong, healthy canopy.
The two unedited photos above, taken on the 1st March 2019 show dramatic improvements in indicative canopy quality where compost has been applied to the soil and, conversely, degradation of the vine where no compost was applied.
The timing of compost application is important to yield the best results for your next year few years’ harvests. The application of compost at this time of the year, prior to the advent of winter rain, allows the organic matter to absorb moisture and retain it to promote healthy spring growth. The nutrients from compost, and any fertiliser applied at the same time, have time to percolate deep into the vines root system.
Nutrient holding, through increased CEC levels, keep nutrients and water around these root systems to provide a great foundation for robust and vigorous growth. Compost also reduces compaction, increasing air and water movement in the soil allowing ample supply for improved root development. Importantly, right now, the ground is sufficiently dry and hard to allow easy application of compost to your vineyard.
Wholesale Landscapes’ HortGro Compost is a free-flowing, nutritious compost produced from fine bark, mulch, freezing works’ waste bio-products and other active fertilising ingredients. Free from residual herbicides, sprays and fungicides and green waste, HortGro Compost is the most proven compost for commercial growers, having been manufactured and sold by Wholesale Landscapes for more than 10 years. HortGro Compost is 100% organic-compliant and is suitable for application in areas which are certified organic.
One recent scientific study, has indicated that adverse weather events and greater year-to-year variations in temperatures are likely to increase due to predicted melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The effect of these changes may be “incredibly disruptive” for agriculture, infrastructure and human life. Viticulturalists can go some way to mitigating such effects on their vineyards by investing proactively in long-term soil enhancement through applying compost.
Wholesale Landscapes has a wide range of composts available to incorporate into your vineyard management scheme. Contact Simon Kemp, on 0800 421 000 for more information on Wholesale Landscapes' horticultural solutions.
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