Vegetable covers in Viticulture and soil management.
Vegetable covers in Viticulture: Soil management using herbicides is prohibited in organic viticulture. Tillage, as a traditional system, is quite common in vine plantations.
The new inter-vine plows are frequently used to remove the weeds that come out between vines. It is necessary to try to work in season, about two or three times a year, trying to carry out the least number of machinery passes.
Excessive tillage breaks the soil structure.
In irrigated areas (drip systems), two passes annually may be sufficient.
In ecological viticulture, the management of biodiversity is important and for this reason, natural plant covers or sown in the streets are used.
Among the most important effects of plant cover in viticulture we can highlight the following:
Advantages of vine roofs:
1. Reduces soil erosion caused by autumn rains
2. Provide nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
3. It avoids the washing of the nutrients in the soil favoring better absorption.
4. Improves the structure of the soil. Activates the microbial life of the soil.
5. Yield control: It competes with the vine plants and therefore reduces the vigor of the vine.
6. Oxygenates the soil. Activates the microbial life of the soil.
7. Improvement of the quality of the grapes.
8. Facilitates the passage of machinery at any time and reduces caking during its passage.
Main drawbacks of plant roofs in vineyards:
1. Excessive competition for nutrients.
2. Competition for water.
3. Increases the risk of spring frosts.
There are several types of plant covers according to their occupation, which can be total and partial or alternate.
Management of plant covers in viticulture:
It must be taken into account that an inappropriate use of plant covers can cause the benefits to be not what is expected.
During the first months of autumn , the chosen species will be sown or the local vegetation will be allowed to grow.
Depending on the use that is going to be given, it will be mowed at the beginning of flowering (when it is intended to basically control soil erosion) and in case you want to control the vigor of the vine, it would be left until June.
It is usually sown in October, flowers in April and dries in May June, although it can compete excessively with the vine, in which case we would proceed to crush it or weed it.
To control vegetation you can use:
Cultivator and other mechanized machinery.
Ideally, leave a “mulching” so that it continues to protect against erosion and provides nutrients in a natural way.
What can we sow?
Normally a selection of winter cereals is used (oats, barley, rye …) capable of covering the ground quickly.
In the case of using the vegetation cover as green compost, legume mixtures (vetch, alfalfa, lupine, clover…) are usually used.
There are several mixtures of grains to sow within the vineyard, but one of the most common mixtures is vetch / oats, that is, a mixture of the two solutions indicated above, in order to take advantage of the advantages of both species.
Crucifers are rarely used because, although they adapt well, they add organic matter late. The underground clover is more used as green manure.
Depending on the variety to be sown we will use different doses (Kg per Ha):
Oats + Veza: 70