Understorey Management in the Vineyard for Sustainable Bio-protection and Vine Strength

By using understorey management techniques you can reduce the impact disease has in your vineyard while also reducing the amount of chemicals and fungicides that are put into your most precious commodity, the soil. The key to all of this is increasing the population of beneficial microbes and bacteria in the biological system.

How do we enhance the microbial activity of our biological systems?

Being aware of what may increase or decrease the populations of microorganisms is really important. And choosing options that either increase populations or options that minimise the loss of microbes is important.

Three simple techniques to increase microbes are:

  1. Add organic matter, this could be in the form of mulch from mowing, mulched prunings, composted grape marc or green manure
  2. Directly add microbes, such as in EM (effective microorganism) or compost teas
  3. Use organic fertiliser’s, such as fish based, seaweed based, or rock based fertiliser

Three simple techniques to minimise the negative impacts of chemical based fertilisers and fungicides:

  1. Re-populate the treated site with “good” microbes, after the chemical option has been used, e.g. EM
  2. Use  minimum rates and frequencies of fungicides and chemicals
  3. Do-not stress the vines or soil, maintain good moisture levels and consider a foliar fertiliser

By following these easy techniques the benefits will include enhanced soil biological activity below the vine, increased soil moisture levels, thicker grape skins and changes to the density of the vine canopy itself. This all comes from an increase in microbial activity within your biological system and will save you money and improve your vine health.