a new vineyard is a major investment. Finding available sites
in suitable areas is not always easy. However when a potential
site is found, it is essential that the suitability of that
site is evaluated against the type of grapes and wines the
purchaser intends growing there.
That means looking at (meso) climatic information, orientation,
availability of water and of course the soil.
The soil forms a major part of what the French call Terroir,
and will have a major influence on how the vines will perform
and which vines or rootstocks are most suitable for the site
and type of grape/wine intended.
It is imperative the soils are tested before purchasing/planting
any vines. This soil test should not be limited to a simple
Basic test of the topsoil. It should include comprehensive
testing of both the top and subsoil.
The analyses should include organic matter content, sometimes
reserve phosphorus, sulphur and nitrogen levels.
In many cases it is desirable to establish nitrogen levels
(available as well as reserve (organic) nitrogen because of
the effect nitrogen has on vigour.
Trace element tests are important to determine potential problems
(high copper levels in old orchard soil, or low boron for
instance). In some areas soluble salts or high chlorine levels
could also be a problem.
Structure and texture of the soil should be examined, as well
as the nature of the parent material. Structure and texture
of the soil are extremely important parameters for vine growth,
especially for the production for quality grapes. It determines
the amount of moisture a soil can hold, whether there are
likely to be problems with waterlogging (big problem for vines)
or compaction layers restricting root development.
A number of pits should be dug to investigate these parameters.
The presence of compacted layers can also be detected using
penetrometers to measure soil strength (measuring the force
needed to push a rod with special cone into the ground). Compaction
can have major effects on vine performance, often growers
are not aware of the presence of compaction layers or hardpans
and/or the consequences of these problems.
A trial conducted in our own research vineyard (pictured)
clearly indicated the serious effects of compaction on newly
Where irrigation is going to be used the quality of the water
needs to be checked. AgConsult can help you with this site
evaluation anywhere in New Zealand.
have provided training for a number of different companies.
Training included issues like:
General soil and fertiliser issues
How to interpret soil test data
Effects of fertilisers in terms of nutrients
and soil biological activity
Liming options and effects on soil
Calcium uptake in plants (horticulture)
Soil biological activity including:
Importance of mycorrhizal fungi
Suppression of soil pathogens
Study Tour, Spanish Vineyard
SOIL & FERTILITY
Consulting includes consulting on a corporate as well as a farm/orchard
level. This may be in the form of a broadbased consulting service
on a regular basis, or in other cases, more focused advice in
relation to specific problems.