Biodiversity shouldn’t be seen as a mere fad. Biodiversity in the vineyard is essential for the enhancement of the different terroirs and for the sustainability of wine production.
Why is biodiversity in the vineyard important?
The vineyard ecosystem is made up of all the life forms that inhabit it, including plants, animals and microorganisms. All these life forms are able to create a real balance within the environment they inhabit, allowing it to adapt to environmental changes.
That said, it’s clear that biodiversity is a fundamental element for the resilience of any environment, in this case, the vineyard. Favouring the presence of indigenous species makes it easier for the vineyard to react to changes, without having to modify its internal balance.
How is biodiversity modified?
The answer is actually quite simple. We need only think, for example, of cultivation practices, irrigation, the use of agricultural machinery, the products used to combat parasites, the type of fertilisation, the removal of hedges and woods in favour of expansion of the cultivated area, etc. All of this inevitably changes the balance of the vineyard ecosystem.
How can we promote biodiversity?
How can we cultivate wine while promoting biodiversity then? Some of the environmentally friendly and biodynamic practices that are useful in this respect include:
- Planting shrubs and fruit trees in the vineyard to attract butterflies and insects, as well as birds and other animal groups.
- Interspersing the vines with hedges to create natural barriers against the spread of harmful fungi.
- Placing piles of stones and wood in the vineyard to create dens for reptiles and insects and to provide nesting facilities for bees and birds of prey. The latter help with rodent control.
- Weeding – the controlled development of a grass cover to prevent the spread of weeds.
- Mulching – covering the soil with organic or synthetic materials to control weed growth, maintain soil moisture, protect the soil from erosion and regulate temperature.
- Regular replanting is encouraged to avoid the total uprooting of old vines. Young vines are then grafted onto existing root structures, creating a genetic diversity that reduces the likelihood of infection by pests.
It is also important to constantly monitor the levels of biodiversity within the vineyard in the following ways:
- Assessing the presence of earthworms and other organisms in the soil, which are good indicators of soil quality and responsible for soil fertility.
- Assessing the type of insects, predators and non-predators, and butterflies present.
- Evaluating the characteristics of the soil and the plants present in the vineyard.
Biodiversity and wine
The biodiversity of wine-growing environments is closely linked to the diversity of landscapes. And behind every landscape, there is a different wine. That’s why it’s so important to protect the environment and the creatures that inhabit it.
Translated by Chelsea Cummings from Karin Mosca’s original Italian article L’importanza della biodiversità nel vigneto.