Compost Under Vines (Macedon Ranges)

This three-year project is trialling the financial and environmental benefits of urban green waste mulch under vines in the Macedon Ranges. Certified compost has been placed in vine rows at three vineyards and are being compared to control row with standard practices (brushcutting under vine). Electronic data loggers are being used to monitor progress hourly and grape quality is being assessed at each annual harvest.

This project was originally led by the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA. The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA is integrating into Melbourne Water on 1 January 2022 and from this date Melbourne Water will be the delivery agency

Why this project is important 

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

Research shows that in mulched vines, warmer roots and bunch zones 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. 

Project partners 

  • Macedon Ranges Vignerons Association  
  • GrapeLinks  
  • Australian Organics Recycling Association

Timeline 

Year three (2022-23)This project is due for completion in May 2022A final results day will be held in early May to communicate the findings of the 3 year trials on wine grape quality parameters.
Year two (2021-22)Year two focused on monitoring and was primarily coordinated remotely due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Temperature data loggers were placed in the vine canopy and soil sensors at the root zone and data was acquired hourly all season.
Weed growth and leaf area were assessed at veraison, and the grapes from mulch treatment and control rows were separately analysed for grape quality parameters.
Year one (2019-20)Three trial sites identified.
Three vineyards received AS 4454 certified composted mulch to cover a strip under 25 vines 1 metre wide and 7.5cm deep.

 
Funding acknowledgement 

This project is delivered by the PPWCMA in partnership with Macedon Ranges Vignerons Association, and GrapeLinks, and is supported by the Victorian Government and the Australian Organics Recycling Association.