4. Special vine care
After having tested an organic approach, and then a biodynamic technique for eight years; we finally shifted for another technique, which truly preserves the environment : durable agriculture.
We strongly believe a few things are worth recalling concerning organic to agriculture : indeed, a regular use of copper to protect a vineyard generates insoluble problems. Today, it is proven and indisputable that copper is extremely harmful for the environment: it is a heavy metal that nothing can absorb, it concentrates in the soil after each treatment and can wind up making the soil totally sterile.
Later, it goes deep into the subsoil and pollutes groundwater ; as was seen in Germany, some areas totally forbade the use of copper when many wells turned out polluted. As for Switzerland, it has limited authorized amounts to such an extent that it's nearly impossible to use copper at any time of year !
From now on, we have decided to apply our own methods, based on our experience and are willed to preserve the environment, by introducing to recent concepts that considerably reduce damageable interventions.
Reasoned pest control allows us to treat vines at the opportune moment only. This control calls for careful observation of the vines, literally with a magnifying lens, thus almost halving treatment. This treatment is only carried out with up products that are quickly biodegradable for the action of sun and microorganisms in the soil.
Integrated pest control is a much more complex technique, which aims at using the ecosystem without man-made intervention. The equilibrium is hence naturally found between parasites and predators. Installing natural shelters for auxiliary insects is one of the measures applied in this technique. During our campaigns against the grape-worm, one of the most harmful parasites for the crops, we apply two methods :
a) Either we use a bacterium that only destroys this parasite, a natural bacterium, harmless for the environment.
b) Or we use sexual confusion which consists in placing odorant capsules that diffuse the pheromones of the female Eudemis butterfly (whose caterpillars are attracted to grapes). These phéromones [S2] then saturate the air around the vines, the males are therefore fooled, thinking they will found scores of females, fertilizing the odorant area without ever inseminating the real females : the plague of the grape-worm can almost be eliminated entirely. The main drawback of this method is its cost, four to five times the cost of a chemical treatment.
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| Pheromone capsules placed in the so-called sexual confusion technique || ||Shelter for chrysopes, and insect ally in our fight against Eudemis butterflies |
This durable and sustainable concept of agriculture is, in our opinion, the only one which truly respects the environment and helps produce greater wine quality today.
At the same time, we invest effort and energy for the quality of our soils and their biological life. Our reasoning is quite simple : if the soils are well, then the vines shall be healthy and less sensitive to disease, capable of defending itself, with its own natural means. Thereafter, we only intervene with chemical treatments in the event of severe attacks.
This reasoning, though simple as it may be, implies an acceptance of crop loss every year. At Domaine de la Mordorée, we prefer this loss to using pesticides !
To illustrate our principal, let us take the case of mildew. Mildew is a mushroom which attacks the plant cells : the more plant cells are saturated in nitrogen the stronger mildew attacks turnout. We never put nitrogen in our vineyards. We thus have little mildew and do not pollute ground water, avoiding that nitrogen be transformed into nitrate and pollute water by infiltration. Avoiding the use of nitrate fertilizers reduces the yield of our production, and we gladly accept this sacrifice.
[S2] Pheromones: hormones secreted by insects that sign their identification; hormones attract their likelihood, as in this example, assuring a group's cohesion and survival, as for bees, whether domesticated or wild.