Soil protection, including protection against erosion plays an important role in tillage systems applied in environmentally friendly grape growing technologies. In the significant part of the Hungarian vineyards with sandy soils, the intensive mechanization of the last decades had a series of unfavorable impacts on the soil. The Balaton Wine Region is characterized by conditions with ecologically less favored, drier growing sites (in certain vintage years). According to forecasts droughts will become more frequent, the average temperature will rise and heavy rains are expected to become more common due to climate change. Abiotic stress conditions due to improper soil cultivation will have a negative impact on the growth of vines.
For the partial elimination of the problems in soil biology life, soil structure, and environment protection and for the development of the mechanization technology Hungary developed the modern and unique environment-friendly tillage systems. To investigate the effects of the treatments on the change in soil moisture, the nutrient supply of both the plant and the soil as well as on harvest results, in 2006 the Badacsony Research Institute for Viticulture and Oenology of the National Agricultural Innovation Centre started a long-term experiment, which included series of comparative tests on soil cultivation methods in the institute’s vineyards on the southern slopes (12 to 14%) of the Badacsony hill in the Badacsony Wine District, with vines planted in a hill to valley direction.
Within the experiment vineyards with cover crops, straw cover methods have been developed. Chemical treatments were replaced with modern, controlled line cultivation machines, and for the loosening of compacted soils are carried out subsoiling.
The following methods have been compared: soil covering with organic waste, permanent and temporary plant covering and mechanical tillage in a (peak-to-valley-way) sloping system. It was found that amongst the lines examined the inter-row area covered by straw had the highest soil moisture content. Therefore, the most optimal and effective method in terms of soil nutrient supply and moisture retention is the mulching process with organic plant residues. An additional and essential advantage of this process is the enhanced effectiveness combating the erosion process.
Soil covering - the mulch or cover crops (temporary and permanent plant cover) - eventually assists in protecting the soil from drying out, from erosion, deflation and their role in weed control cannot be neglected either. In the event of an oversupply of rain, it reduces eventual disorders in nutrient supply (N, P, K). The cover crops (especially the pea-flower mix) help in compensating soil compaction, in optimizing the nutrient supply (especially nitrogen), in maintaining favorable soil moisture conditions as well as positively influencing, increasing the organic contents of the soil.
The benefit of using the organic covering material (mulching matter) is confirmed by the fact that in every vintage it has positive effects on the various parameters of the soil (optimal soil moisture content, nutrient-uptake-condition) and the amount of yield increase significantly in comparison to the mechanically till aged control treatment.
To spread information on this solution among the grape producers the experimental results have been published on production technological presentations, university conferences, in journals and in the university education.
Budget: 1000-1800 EUR/ha (including mulching matter as well as delivery and cost of getting out. If consider the costs, a significantly cheaper solution from the periodic plant mulching methods is the mulching with leguminous plants, while they fix the atmospheric nitrogen in an available form for the plants, at the same time they loosen the soil with their roots and save it from the erosion.
Partners: Technical University of Budapest, Pannon University of Keszthely, St. Stephen`s University
National Agricultural Innovation Centre
Badacsony Research Insitute for Viticulture and Oenology
Address: Badacsony Research Station: 8261 Badacsonytomaj, Római út 181, Hungary
Contact person: Dr. Varga Péter, Senior Research Fellow
Phone: + 36 87 532200