What is minimal disturbance?
This destroys the soil's physical structure and leads to soil erosion. Under-vine cultivation is frequently practiced by some growers, but we do not agree with this physical practice, as it encourages weeds. Disturbance to the soil surface by cultivation provides a niche that favours plant species that are best adapted to utilize and colonize the disturbed area i.e.weeds. Roadsides are colonized by many weeds species.
More disturbance = more weeds.
Planting our vineyard was carried out using a water jet rather than ripping. Cultivation can also impact on earthworm populations and importantly soil mycorrhizae, that are vitally important for capturing nutrients for the vines.
Maintaining a protective vegetation cover at all times protects the soil surface from rain drop impact and erosion. This is essential on all slopes. Deep rooted plants (such as weeds) provide micro-pores in the soil for water infiltration. These plants can also access deeper nutrients and when they die off the nutrients are recycled at the soil surface and provide organic matter. Grazing may result in some of these nutrients being exported from the system, in the form of wool and meat!
Establishing an equilibrium
Establishing an equilibrium that is acceptable for sustainable vineyard management; eg spreading cudweed is a prostrate annual that fits in well. Less disturbance helps achieve this to some degree, although the seasonal weather patterns largely determine the dominant species.
Not spraying Lime Sulfur. This is deadly on insect life, but is widely used on orchards and vineyards, including organic. It may be an organically acceptable product but the use of this product reduces beneficial insects as well as less desirable ones and can upset the ecological balance.
Copper is also an organic spray widely used but is a heavy metal that persists in the environment and can impact on earthworm populations.
Other sprays may also kill off native yeasts that are present on the berries at harvest and recent research indicates that these local yeast strains may be an important component of regional or local wine character.