Organic since 1992

A winemaker’s comment:

Rolling, rolling...

Insights from the vineyard: Why do we press down our cover crop instead of cutting it?

Seeding cover crop between vines is a common procedure that we, as organic winemakers carry out on a annual basis. We carefully think about the type of plants that we seed: For us it is particularly important to chose varieties with different characteristics. Some rooting deep, some keeping their roots rather close to the surface. Some of them are early flowering plants, some only bloom late in autumn. In our case, this resulted in a mixture of nine different plants from sainfoin to clover and from buckwheat to wild radish. As a consequence, the different plants enhance biodiversity in our vineyards, also because they serve as food for bees, beetles, spiders and other insects. In addition, vines are strenghtened due to the plants’ ability to take nitrogen from the air and forward it through the soil. Our loess soil and whether conditions enable plants to grow quite well and therefore we have to take care that they don’t overgrow. There are several possibilities to handle plants’ tendency to grow all over. We tell you our way to do this: Now it comes to rolling, rolling…

The most common way to reduce growth is to simply cut the plants. This is not our approach. Instead of cutting the plants we press them down through rolling. Therefore, plants don’t die – they are able to finish their vegetation process. Meaning, they finish blooming and even build new seeds. Even without adding extra seeds there will be additional plants! Rolling instead of cutting also saves insects’ lives and enables them to keep on humming, crawling and flying. Know knives that could kill them. In addition, the pressed down crops shield the soil from too much sunlight. The soil gets less hot during summer, evaporation is limited and moisture is kept at the bottom. In case of heavy rain, plants promote drainage. Also, possible erosion due to severe winds can be avoided. And another advantage: Pressing down the plants promotes aeration through the rows. More wind, less diseases. Last but not least, CO2 emissions are lower when rolling instead of cutting.

And this it what rolling in the vineyard looks like:

Before rolling

Weingarten vor dem Walzen / Vineyard before

After rolling

Weingarten nach dem Walzen / vinyard after rolling

Watch the short video:


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