"Joe Vaughan from 100 Hunts Vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula is a trail blazer for using compost mulch under vine and says that, 'herbicide use has decreased by more than 50% in the vineyard as there is less weed pressure.' In November 2014, a heatwave across Victoria gave us the opportunity to put the trials to the test and measure what was going on in the soil. The air temperature hit 41oC and the following measurements were taken from the soil probes, in particular soil temperature at the highest air temperature recording of 41oC."
Soils: Management practices include soil tests for chemical analysis and also for soil biology. These tests are used as a guide. We are still learning! The undervine strip is banded with mulch every 2nd to 3rd year to provide good soil cover, add humus and promote soil biology with a focus on fungal populations in the soil. This mulch is brought in to the vineyard. It is composted green waste from the southeast suburbs of Melbourne. This composted mulch is not waste but a valuable resource that would otherwise to go to landfill. The undervine mulch is applied at 65 m3 per Ha (banded undervine strip) Every year we make compost (for the past 9 years). The compost consists of a blend of grape marc from some local wineries, wood chips from tree loppers, commercial mulch, horse stable manure from local racehorse trainers, grass clippings from mowing services, and old silage and hay from nearby farms. It is turned often and takes about 6-8 months to become completed compost.
Midrow: The vineyard row width is 3 metres and has a permanent grass sward in the midrow. It was sown 23 years ago with a vineyard ‘blockout mix’ of thick growing grasses. Now other local species are also in the midrow including grasses, clovers, plantain and other ‘weeds’. We use a ChrisGrow mower which fits the delve and throws to both sides. Alternate rows are mowed when the grass is about knee height. This provides a thick layer of mulch under the vines but leaves flowering plants in the unmown alternate rows. When flowers start to show in the first mown rows, then the other rows are cut. The aim is to keep flowing plants in the vineyard all the time as a home for beneficial insects. This method seems to work as LBAM is not such a problem any more. This season we are experimenting with direct sowing a mix of flowering plants into some of the midrows.