Developing a low-input under-vine management system to improve profitability without compromising yield or quality

Christopher Penfold, Melanie Weckert, Jake Howie, Thomas Nordblom, Mark Norton

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    The under-vine region of the vineyard floor contains the greatest concentration of vine roots, so management of this zone directly impacts vine yield, quality and profitability. The removal of weeds involves regular use of herbicides or cultivation, neither of which is recognized as best practice soil management. Resultant herbicide resistant weeds, poor soil quality and restricted access to soil moisture may adversely affect vine growth. Under-vine cover crops are being compared with herbicide and straw mulch controls for their impact on yield, fruit, wine and soil quality, suppression of weeds and economic response at five sites in South Australia. The cover crop species consist of annual and perennial native or exotic grasses and legumes.

    Despite under-vine cover crop biomass of up to 8 t/ha following a very dry spring, at some sites treatments showed improved grape yields in 2016 compared with the herbicide and straw mulch controls. Different cover crop species had distinctive effects on grapevine root colonisation by beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Next Generation Sequencing of the vineyard soil showed that some cover crops were more strongly associated with Glomeromycota, the fungal division containing the AMF. Fruit quality was not compromised by the cover crops, and in a sensory analysis of Shiraz wine from the Barossa site, the herbicide control was rated lowest of seven treatments. Perennial cover crops which remained active over summer helped to suppress summer weeds but also reduced yields at most sites. In this paper we report on results from one selected site.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    Event20th GiESCO International Meeting - Mendoza, Argentina
    Duration: 05 Nov 201709 Nov 2017 (Conference website)


    Conference20th GiESCO International Meeting
    OtherThe 20th GiESCO International Meeting (Group of International Experts for Cooperation on Vitivinicultural Systems) took place in Mendoza, Argentina on 5-9 November 2017.

    More than 250 experts from around the world (over 20 countries represented) took part in the different sessions of this conference, which was dedicated in particular to the sustainability of viticulture in the different scenarios of climate change.
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