The Value of Sustainability in Viticulture

The wine making industry has its own challenges, and opportunities, when it comes to implementing sustainable agriculture practices.

In the heart of Bordeaux wine country sits Château Lamothe, a beautiful 16th century estate with over 75 hectares of vineyards that have been managed by the same family for four generations. As part of the Bayer ForwardFarming initiative, a global network and knowledge platform for implementing innovation in sustainable agriculture, Château Lamothe is committed to advancing viticulture and winemaking in an environmentally, economically and socially responsible way.

We sat down with the Bayer ForwardFarming team in France to learn more about sustainability in the viticulture industry and the different innovative elements the farmer employs on his vineyards at each stage of the grape-growing process.

A Matter of Right Choice

Producing sustainable wine begins at the vineyard and grows from the ground, up. To choose the right grape variety and rootstock is the first step in wine production. To make the right decision it is important to have a clear understanding of the region climate, the farm soil and other environment aspects (e.g., wind, water, sunlight).

At Château Lamothe, the soil varies across the farm, but is primarily limestone-clay with some gravelly areas. Before planting a new plot, the team at the farm conducts a soil analysis to help determine the right root stock to use and the right amounts of organic and mineral fertilizer to apply. Additionally, to reduce erosion, improve wine quality, and protect the natural flora and fauna, natural grass has been planted and maintained between each row of vines since the 1980’s.

Growing Strong Vines

French vineyards are prone to mildew fungi, and vine wood diseases that can devastate yields during periods of unfavorable weather. Wintertime vine pruning, and appropriate fertilization management throughout the growing season, help prevent and fight fungal infections to produce quality grapes.

The team at Château Lamothe is assisted by a decision support system, Movida®, which includes digital weather and mildew prediction models, providing a customized agronomic solution based on current conditions.

Protecting the Grower and Preserving the Environment

Applying the right amount of crop protection products at exactly the right moment, and with accuracy, is critical in making sure the vines are protected against diseases.

Château Lamothe’s team continuously looks for ways to improve application technology, as spraying technique is critical to environmental protection and user safety.

To guarantee the safety of everyone working on the vineyard, regular equipment maintenance checks are done. They have also improved personal protective equipment, making it more comfortable and easy to wear, and conduct regular training in safe use of crop protection products.

Experience has shown that when protection wear is both effective and comfortable, there is a greater chance of it being adopted by all farm workers. Safety and comfort go hand in hand and everyone enjoys their benefits.

Promoting Biodiversity for a Healthy Farm

The family at Château Lamothe know that a healthy environment and vineyard are one in the same. Several flowering plots are located at the vineyard to attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Solitary bee hotels have been installed through out the property to provide pollinators shelter and a place to nest.

The Château also partners with local beekeepers through an agreement for “good agricultural and beekeeping practices” and works with the biodiversity networks ENI and OAB to monitor progress in managing biodiversity.

A healthy and responsible harvest in viticulture requires a holistic approach to sustainable farming practices. Bayer ForwardFarming connects independent farmers with experts and local partners to strengthen the exchange of agriculture know-how, facilitate dialogue and demonstrate the benefits of sustainable agriculture in practice. To learn more about Château Lamothe and other ForwardFarms around the world, visit https://www.cropscience.bayer.com/en/crop-science/forwardfarming.

Santé!

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