Ecologic sustainable vines, a world’s target

The automotive industry is currently engaged at an international level in the production of vehicles with low consumption and pollution. Vines are biological cars, which consume 350 to 700 liters of water, via perspiration, to produce one kilogram of grape and about one liter of wine. But vines also consume organic substances (sugars) respiring through oxidation, for their own vital energy, emitting CO2 in the air, always in proportion to the power of car-vines. Photosynthesis reuses part of the CO2 to produce organic substances.
These physiological phenomena are proportional to leaf surface and vine vigor, representing the power of the car. Cars with small engine capacity consume little fuel; conversely, cars with great engine capacity feature high consumption. In vines, a developed leaf area consumes a lot of water, sugar, nutrients, pesticides, bio-stimulants, hormones, etc.
It is possible to build vines with reduced leaf surface (gobelet, Guyot) or high power (Casarsa, GDC, pergola, tendone, raggi), with increasing consumption; therefore, consumption must be reduced within the factory, by building a small-size plant canopy. The production of grapes is related to the power (vigor, leaf area) ranging from 5 to 100 tons/hectare. In tropical climates, vines can give up to two or three harvests, with consequently increasing consumption.
The reduction in consumption can be achieved even in high powered machines, through speed reduction (vine production). Thinning of bunches, topping of buds, tipping, removal of sterile buds etc. are green pruning interventions which can adjust the leaf area and the production of energy dissipating machines. In fact, the vine power is related to the length (weight) of shoots per stem, i.e. vigor, which depends on several factors: variety, rootstock, soil, water availability, fertilization, etc.
It is growers’ and technicians’ responsibility to use less polluting fuels, and in the right quantities, to achieve sustainable viticulture, ecologically and economically, while respecting environment.
If the automotive industry, for instance, has moved from gasoline to natural gas and electricity, viticulture can apply saving techniques and technologies: drip irrigation instead of slip irrigation, leaf fertilization instead of soil fertilization, sprinkle with recovery atomizers instead of high pressure wetting, etc.
High-precision sustainable viticulture is no longer a utopia. But it requires research and knowledge, which must be transferred to growers.

by MARIO FREGONI – Oiv Honorary President and France Agriculture Lecturer

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