The burning of pruning waste from vineyards reduces the sustainability of agriculture, contributing to the loss of resources and to the breakdown of the organic matter cycle. So why is this practice being developed?
The answer lies in certain characteristics of the vine shoots, which make them a “residue” difficult to manage. In this case, its use is poorly understood and, although traditional management measures such as burning are becoming unfeasible and undesirable, it is necessary to offer alternatives for their management.
The most widespread traditional management measures are burning in situ or burying chopped vine shoots in the ground.
The burning of pruning is a serious environmental problem due to the emission of greenhouse gases, as well as a risk to public health. In addition, it involves the loss of a resource, organic matter and nutrients, very valuable for the soil. For this reason, regulations are beginning to prohibit it in some areas and, in fact, it is totally inadvisable in the rest of them.
To avoid or replace incineration, some producers bury the vine shoots into the soil of the vineyards. This practice of incorporating vine shoots into the soil to increase soil fertility and keep the organic matter cycle closed, seems to have a theoretically higher environmental soundness. However, it can lead to other problems as they provide an optimal substrate and shelter for pathogenic fungi that already live in the soil, which develop faster and stronger. In addition, a little degradable organic matter is provided. On the other hand, the carbon-nitrogen ratio (C / N) of the vine shoot is high (between 50 and 70), which indicates that it is not convenient to use it directly as a fertilizer component in the soil without prior treatment. The reason is that the addition of this organic matter generates a period of nitrate depression, making the plants not have access to enough nitrogen, compromising the quality of the soil, even if it is added artificially, the greater quantity will be used by microorganisms.
Therefore, it is necessary to find sustainable solutions from a technical, environmental and economic point of view.
In this sense, LIFE SARMIENTO is based on the valorisation of the vineyard pruning remains through its directed composting with a pool of microorganisms that confers additional and specific properties to the organic amendment produced, among which stand out biostimulant and bio fertilizing capacities. Composting is a process of sanitizing and stabilizing organic matter, clearing it of pathogens.
The addition of compost not only improves the vigour of the plant but also the fertility and productivity of the soil, its water retention capacity and biodiversity, as well as helping to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
A paradigm shift is essential to stop considering the vine shoots as a residue and treat them as a resource (source of nutrients) promoting circular economy.
With the contribution of compost, we are protecting the soils, a fundamental natural resource to maintain the food production systems and, consequently, our daily life.
In LIFE SARMIENTO we are implementing a management system that involves individual farmers, wineries-cooperatives and technicians, offering support and advice to other wineries interested in their development. You contact us here for more information.