The move to these vineyard management systems is growing rapidly. There are a number of reasons why.
- As a community we want healthier soils to grow healthier food.
- There is increasing resistance to herbicides, fungicides and insecticides which in turn creates imbalance in our farming systems (chemical load increases with less affect)
- Consumer demand is increasing for ecological sustainable farming systems and healthy food.
- Mechanical equipment technology is rapidly developing.
The two systems of Organic and Bio-Dynamic farming techniques are similar yet very different. In a simple nut shell Organic farming is a system approach where Bio-Dynamics is an in depth philosophical system which takes cosmic affects into account.
Both systems are growing in popularity throughout the Viticultural world.
Bio-Dynamic farming looks upon the soil and land as living organisms. The sustainability of soil life is vital in order to protect the soil from erosion and to create, improve and grow the humus content. The result is a fine, crumbly structure containing the necessary organic colloids. This leads to the production of high quality crops which, in turn, means better food for human beings.
Bio-Dynamic practitioners use two sprays: Horn Manure 500 – a soil spray enhancing soil biology, plant vigour and root depth, and Horn Silica 501 – an atmospheric spray increasing photosynthesis and improving plant quality. Sprayed sparingly over the land, they promote more balanced plants that are less susceptible to insect and fungal attack. Insect, fungus and weed problems are viewed as symptoms, or messengers, of imbalances in the soil and stress in plants.
The organic grower concentrates more on trying to grow a healthy vine, able to withstand pests and feed itself naturally, than on sheltering the vine from anything that might harm it. This means developing a healthy soil and a balanced ecosystem within the vineyard. It also means a lot of hard work.
The life of the soil
A natural soil is a living thing. A healthy soil is vital to the organic grower because it supplies the vine with balanced nutrients.
The farmer keeps the soil healthy by regular well timed ploughing and by the application of carefully prepared organic composts.
A good organic grower tries to encourage a more natural environment in his vineyard. The vine lives alongside other plants, as well as insects, birds, and other small animals.
While some of these creatures may compete with or prey on the vine, they will also compete with and prey on each other. This situation is inherently more stable than a monoculture.
Cover crops are secondary crops planted between the rows of vines.
They can help the vine in three ways.
- By encouraging the natural predators of the vine’s enemies.
- By acting as decoys for anything that preys on the vine.
- By fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.
Cover crops can then be ploughed back into the earth as a way of enriching the soil.
Pridham Viticulture are experienced and familiar with both systems. We have had years of exposure to the techniques used and are continually developing new methods.