21. jul. 2016

Sustainability : The spreading of fertilizers

We spread the organic fertilizers in late winter.

Organic fertilizers work much slower in the soil than conventional ones. They deteriorate much slower which means that the elements will be available to the plant maybe only several months after spraying. The idea is to keep the levels in the soil and make sure nutriments are available in the period of growth

Frozen rather than muddy
For us, it is practical to spread the fertilizers in the winter because the ground is likely to be dry and hard.

As we plough the vineyards, the rows may otherwise be quite muddy.

Our little machine moves forward due to its caterpillar tracks so they will move anyway. But it is physically harder to manoeuvre it.

Nourish the soil
The idea of fertilizers is not to nourish the plant directly.

Instead we supply elements and minerals that will nourish the soil based on our soil analysis.

When the soil is healthy and sufficiently rich, it constitutes the best possible environment for the vines to remain strong and vigorous as they grow.

Several decades ago pulverized city garbage (known as gadoues, composts urbains) was spread in vineyards all over Champagne because it was thought to nourish the environment. This has left a heritage of tiny plastic pieces in the rows. Obviously, this practice has been banned years ago, but as plastic decomposits slowly, the traces stay.

Grind and spread
We use a machine, specially conceived for the vineyards, to spread the fertilizers.

For the purpose of this job, we equip the machine (le chenillard) with a spinning sprayer. The funnel is filled with the fertilizers, and as we move the machine forward, the pellets are sprayed over 4 rows.

A maximum average of 50 kilos per hectare of nitrogen is allowed within the regulations of sustainable winegrowing. However, we tend to put less.

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How to nourish the soils