UNDERVINE WEED MANAGEMENT
At Harris Organic vineyard the undervine weed management has never included any chemical herbicide usage. Every spring the diesel tractor was used to pull the “silly plough” along the rows to strip away the soil and growth under the vines. This aids to the health and fitness of the operator and to the communication skills of man and wife. Now you can guess who drove the tractor and who did the yelling!
There is a lot we can learn from the old ways in the Swan Valley region. At a recent European exhibition there was not a single under-vine herbicide machine, they were all mechanical machines. Further this gives some context to the recent decision from the French and Belgium Governments to ban the sale of glyphosate (the active constituent in Roundup). A large portion of European grape growers are opting for organic/biodynamic vineyards. The progress of the organic movement has allowed the advancement of chemical free options.
Organic vignerons are turning to engineering companies which produce practical, versatile machines that combine a number of operations. These are all changeable to the base unit on the tractor. Then the system uses an under vine blade, mulcher and a rotary hoe which are easily attached to the side mounted unit. This gives the grape vine grower the ability to adapt to each vineyard situation which is crucial in Australian vineyards due to our varied weed species, vine age and differing soil types.
Here in this video is what we do now in our organic vineyard.
As glyphosate resistance is already a problem across the country, due to normal weeds becoming resistant to herbicides. Then we should all be looking at ways we can manage our weed populations. Also, this can be done effectively, efficiently and in the most sustainable manner by ploughing. In the first instance giving the under vine area a shallow ploughing removes the chemical resistant weeds.
This leads on to the question, “When is glyphosate going to be banned in Australia”?