Philosophy: Cover crops.

As a way of protecting and improving the soil, we seed leguminous or grass cover crops, which also act as a habitat for beneficial predators and provide an environmentally-friendly fertiliser for the vines. The balance of the vine plant is controlled, its vigour kept down and diseases and pest attacks prevented. Cover crops also help stop erosion and avoid runoffs during periods of heavy rainfall, draining water better towards the interior and thereby creating useful water reserves for times of water deficit stress.

When the vines are shooting, a cover crop is a very attractive sight. The flowers produced by leguminous cover crops attract many beneficial insects. Their roots possess nodules which capture atmospheric nitrogen and distribute it in an assimilable way and enrich the soil, creating a source of energy for micro-organisms.

We recently brought a local flock of sheep to graze on the cover crops. As well as being very good “strimmers” the animals bring a small amount of manure, made up of micro-organisms that are beneficial for the soil.