Compost under vine trial begins in the Macedon Ranges

16 September 2019

Vineyard with compost mulch underneath the vines

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA, in partnership with Macedon Ranges Vignerons Association, GrapeLinks and Veolia, has begun a three-year trial into the financial and environmental benefits of composted mulch from urban green waste under vine in high altitude vineyards of the Macedon Ranges.

The Macedon Ranges vineyards are the coldest in mainland Australia and produce outstanding cool climate wines. These highly labour intensive vineyards at 500-600 metres need a reliable method to increase the time vine roots and grapes can spend at beneficial temperatures with cost effective and efficient management practices.

It is expected that in mulched vines, warmer roots and buchzones in spring and cooler conditions in summer will increase grape and wine quality. Moreover, non-herbicide weed suppression under vine  is a goal for many vineyards in the region. 

The concept is based on trials undertaken on the Mornington Peninsula between 2015 and 2018, which saw positive grape quality results from pinot noir with recycled composted mulch under vine.

The PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Facilitator, Karen Thomas, and Dr. Erika Winter from GrapeLinks initiated the trials this week.

Three vineyards received AS 4454 certified composted mulch to cover a strip under 25 vinesone metre wide and 7.5 centimetres deep.

Bunchzone and soil temperatures will be measured hourly with electronic data loggers and compared to those in a control row with standard practices (brushcutting under vine). 

Grape quality traits will be assessed from 20 bunches in a laboratory. 

This project is supported by the Victorian Government, Macedon Ranges Vignerons Association and AORA.

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