We stopped applying herbicides to our chardonnay vineyard in 2008 so we were forced to look at alternatives for managing the under-vine space in our vineyards. We decided to purchase an under-vine mower because it enabled us to maintain the vineyard floor without breaking or cultivating the soil. It also meant we could encourage certain plant species to occupy this space whilst also having the ability to control their growth as we needed. The advantage of no-tlll (or at least minimal till) farming is that complex soil structure is not constantly broken down. This then allows soil microbes to flourish undisturbed and carry on their role in recycling nutrient through the soil. This movie shows our Fischer moving through our chardonnay vineyard. As you can see the speed of work is very slow but as with all things organic, time and care are critical ingredients. An unfortunate consequence of this technique is that vines that are not straight are cut off at ground level so we have spent lots of time straightening or staking and retraining vines.
Since converting to organic viticulture in late 2008 we have encountered problems such tall clumping grasses that are not compatible with either our vineyard configuration or our under vine management strategy. This video shows one of our first full vineyard attempts to flame weed. The combination of dry senesced leaves acting as an accelerant and dry late afternoon conditions provided good conditions for the trial.