Ok…….so weed control eh????
Well here is the deal…..it seems like anything that grows really well under just about any condition is considered a weed. Fact is most of the vegetation we try to control in the vineyard is naturally occurring. Some only get out of control because we have disrupted the natural order by cultivating. Taller more vigorous grasses, shrubs and trees would generally shade out the “weeds” we are dealing with. Some are not indigenous and have been transported on farm equipment and via human and animal intervention. Others have been here for ages and are just looking for their place in the sun.
In some areas where there is enough natural moisture we have planted perennial
cover crops. These reoccurring clovers and grasses are good for the soil fertility,
prevent erosion, and help prevent compaction of the soil. At the same time they
allow us to control what grows on the vineyard floor because they have an
advantage over other unwanted plants. This type of weed control can be the most
energy efficient once compatible cover crops have become dominant.
In dryer areas we use mechanical methods of control. It is essentially the way my great-grandfather used to farm except we don’t use horses. As you can see in the pictures, we plow a furrow underneath the vine row and actually cover the base of the vine with dirt. This not only removes the plants in the furrow but covers the vegetation in the row and around the vine. At the same time it mixes the biomass in with the soil and adds oxygen to the soil around the vine as well. This natural composting creates a great environment for earthworms, soil born bacteria and other beneficial species. Check out the earthworms in the picture.
This is one of the keys I use each year to gauge the health of the soil. We pull the soil away a few weeks later after the plant tissue has broken down and we have a clean vine row………….at least for a while.
When you have healthy soil, things like to grow. We still have to go out a few times with other mechanical devices and maintain the area. Although we have managed to eliminate the use of herbicides and are not supporting their production, the multiple uses of machinery is still something we are trying to reduce.
As a small operation we are fortunate that we can utilize practices that make environmental and economic sense. Finding a balance is the key.
Thanks for reading my babble…………………
Eat and drink Local,