The Benefits of Mulching for Viticulture and Olive Orchards

November 27, 2018 Mulching, News

mulching viticulture and olive orchards

The Australian Viticulture and Olive Industries are in a strong position, with highly skilled growers, who are continually updating their agriculture knowledge and adopting innovative technologies and practices.

Growers are looking at the best way to improve the quality of their produce, manage pests, resources and the land by implementing technologies to increase efficiency.

Mulching is a practice that not only replenishes the soil, it can prevent weed germination or growth, create even moisture conditions and conserve water, promoting growth of the produce. Mulched crop residue promotes fast decomposition, preventing pests and diseases from developing.

Consumers have an expectation relating to production in vineyards and olive orchards:

  • Little or no pesticides
  • Environmentally compatible farming methods
  • Sustainable farming with consideration for the landscape
  • Increased soil fertility

Mulching in vineyards and olive orchards helps nature with its natural processes. It creates a bi-product that is distributed evenly- which means uniform distribution of the nutrients.

Grape Production in Australia

The viticulture industries in Australia are well developed, innovative and utilise the latest production practices (Oag, 2018).

The Australian wine sector is in its strongest position in more than a decade, according to an Australian wine report published earlier this year. The report includes the latest national statistics on the Australian winegrape crush, wine production, domestic sales, Australian wine exports, total Australian wine sales and, inventory (along with inventory-to-sales ratios).

mulching in vineyards
Source:
wineaustralia.com

While many factors contributed to this finding, it’s always important for growers to learn new ways in which they can increase efficiency in their practices. Maintaining and distributing a quality product starts with the quality of the soil.

Australia’s wine industry contributes $40 billion to our economy and employs 170,000 people (Agriculture.gov.au, 2018).

Australia is the fifth largest wine producer in the world, and the largest in the Southern hemisphere (although it vies with Argentina for both positions from year to year). The total vineyard area is around 135,000 hectares (Wineaustralia.com, 2018). Wine grapes are grown in every Australian state and territory with South Australia, NSW and Victoria being the largest wine grape producers (Gillespie, 2015).

International tourists identify ‘great food, wine, local cuisine and produce’ as a major reason for visiting Australia. With the China and USA trade war,  tariffs for Australia have been reduced, benefiting Australia’s agricultural sector. China is our largest wine export market, and we contribute greatly to their import of fruit and nuts.

australia wine map
Map of Australian wine regions

Source:
vineyards.com

Olive Orchards in Australia

The olive tree has been cultivated for thousands of years and some commercial groves have been productive for over one hundred years (AgriFutures Australia, 2018).

The olive tree is originally from the Mediterranean area and seems best suited to a Mediterranean climate, i.e. dry summers, wet winters. The Hunter may not be textbook perfect for the traditional climate for growing olives as it usually has dry winters and wet, all year-round rainfall with humid summers, particularly near the coast (Farmstyle Australia, 2018).

However, the climatic limitations are not the be all and end all and can be overcome with enough care and attention.

olive orchards australia
Map of current and potential olive growing regions
Source: AgriFutures

Benefits of Mulching in Vineyards and Olive Orchards

The right care and attention needed in vineyards and olive orchards means understanding the benefits of mulching and how you can apply the practice to ensure you’re growing the best possible quality products, all while implementing sustainable farming practices.

Consumers are now much more proactive and vocal about their expectations surrounding production and the responsibilities of a business to act ethically. Consumers are looking for businesses that adopt environmentally compatible farming methods and focus on sustainable farming with consideration for the landscape. They also expect little or no pesticides used in the process, in addition to increased soil fertility. The increased interest in sustainable farming practices means consumers don’t want to just be taking natural resources and want to know that the farmers they are buying from promote the re-use of natural resources where possible. As mulching creates a bi-product and promotes fast decomposition, it aligns perfectly with the value of sustainability that so many consumers hold.

Vineyard and olive orchard crop residues that decompose rapidly provide nutrients for the next crop- as consumers are expecting- using little or no pesticides and increasing soil fertility!

You may be mulching in your vineyard and olive orchard already and haven’t realised how many benefits it has, not only to the produce, but in the eyes of environmentally conscious consumers too!

Why you should stop burning your vineyard pruning’s and start mulching instead

While burning vineyard pruning’s may still be a common practice around Australia- it doesn’t mean it’s a good practice. Old habits are hard to break but once you realise the benefits of mulching vineyard pruning’s rather than burning, you’ll see the need to change your farming practices and adapt to a better method.

Burning vineyard pruning’s pollutes the air with carbon dioxide, soot (carbon particles), Particulate Matter (PM), and other gaseous emissions, which increase the carbon footprint of the wine industry, according to the research from University of Idaho.

If you’re interested in supporting the long-term future of agriculture in Australia, a good place to start is to break the habit of burning vineyard pruning’s.

Burning of wastes arising from agricultural activities should be undertaken as a final measure following the application of the following waste hierarchy:

  1. Waste arisings are reduced in accordance with best agricultural practice.
  2. Waste is reused where practicable.
  3. Waste is recycled through shredding and used as compost or wood chippings.
  4. Waste is salvaged for use as fuel where practicable.

In order for agriculture to be sustainable, farmers need to evaluate the valuable resources they have access to. Rather than burning pruning’s, they can be mulched, turning into a bi-product with various benefits.

It not only benefits the environment by providing nutrients, it helps you financially. You can save on fertilisers, compost and wood chip because you’re creating your own.

 

How Muthing Mulchers can improve quality and efficiency

Now that you understand why mulching is crucial in vineyards and olive orchards, it’s time to decide on the right type of mulcher.

Muthing is German engineering at its best with their mulcher range manufactured in Europe. Muthing has the widest range of mulchers for agricultural use. The Muthing Mulcher System is innovative and offers many benefits including:

Pasture improvement and maintenance

Mulching is essential in maintaining a healthy soil structure. Using a Muthing Mulcher means that the pasture is finely mulched and de-fibred material is spread evenly behind the roller, leaving no windrows. This also means that the nutrients are spread evenly, as the rapidly decomposing crop residue provides nutrients for the next crop. The Muthing mulcher has forged hammers to mulch vegetation, providing an excellent finish of mulched bi-product.

Effective weed and pest control

Mulching can be a very effective way of controlling weeds and preventing pests and diseases. Mulch acts as a protective layer, blocking the sun, preventing weed growth. Mulch moderates the soil wetting and drying cycle between irrigations and moderates soil temperatures around roots, improving plant growth (Ipm.ucanr.edu, 2018). The even distribution of cuttings across the soil and rapid decomposition of stubble that a Muthing Mulcher provides means a significant reduction in the potential for pest and disease infestation.

muthing mulchers

Input cost reductions; fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides

Using a Muthing Mulcher improves soil structure and fertility in all agricultural applications including; viticulture, orchards, general pasture, vegetable and broadacre. This replaces the need to use fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, which can be costly and frowned upon by environmentally conscious consumers.

A top-class mulching result is something that all Muthing mulchers have in common. You can depend on it!

Improve Your Vineyard or Olive Orchard Practice with a Muthing Mulcher

Muthing Mulchers are German engineered, made with QST/E high grade steel with less weight and higher density. They are the best of the best and have the widest range of mulchers for agricultural use. We’re confident that a Muthing Mulcher can make your farming practices more efficient, sustainable and produce a better-quality product.

Southern Cross Ag Machinery are a family run Australian business, with over 12 years’ experience in the agricultural industry. We specialise in supplying and distributing quality agricultural, mulching, mowing and slashing equipment to the Australian market. We provide support to our dealers and their customers where needed.

Looking for a Muthing Mulcher for your vineyard or olive orchard? Call us today on (02) 4932 3011 to find out which mulcher will best suit your needs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Agriculture.gov.au. (2018). Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Wine. [online] Available at: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/about/commitment/portfolio-facts/wine

AgriFutures Australia. (2018). Olives | AgriFutures Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.agrifutures.com.au/farm-diversity/olives/

Farmstyle Australia. (2018). Starting out in olives. [online] Available at: https://farmstyle.com.au/news/starting-out-olives-0

Gillespie, R. (2015). Economic Contribution of the Australian Wine Sector. [online] Wineaustralia.com. Available at: https://www.wineaustralia.com/WineAustralia/media/WineAustralia/PDF/Market-Insights/2016/Final-AgEconlus-Economic-Contribution-Australian-Wine-Sector.pdf

Ipm.ucanr.edu. (2018). Managing Pests in Gardens: Mulches—UC IPM. [online] Available at: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/ENVIRON/mulches.html

Oag, D. (2018). 3. GRAPE PRODUCTION IN AUSTRALIA. [online] Fao.org. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x6897e/x6897e04.htm

Wineaustralia.com. (2018). Market insights – Australian grape and wine production. [online] Available at: https://www.wineaustralia.com/market-insights/australian-grape-and-wine-production