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The Science of Soil

Posted by on June 10th

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I loved this article from the Lancaster Farming website by Chris Torres, “A Systems Approach to Organic.”

It’s a quick and fascinating read about how California winemakers recently demonstrated to local growers — in a workshop sponsored by our unbeatable local resource, the Penn State Cooperative Extension — those methods proven to create healthy soil and raise organic vines notwithstanding our sticky climate on the East Coast

Apparently, the basic components for sustainable (and soil loving) agriculture remain the same no matter the location:  employing integrated pest management (IPM), using minimal tillage and herbicides, increasing biodiversity, and introducing cover crops doused with ample compost.  In fact, one local winemaker, Ed Boyce of Black Ankle Vineyards, has taken to using dish soap and canola oil to control pests and hand weeding to control weeds.  This doesn’t make for cheap wines — his starting prices reach $26 a bottle — but how wonderful the sustainable ethos is spreading to an area with as many winemaking challenges as we find here in the tristate area.

This piece also reminded me of a lovely portrait of a New Zealand winemaker in the Guardian a few weeks back.  “A Working Life: The Winemaker,” by Mark Tran, will take you on a stroll through Chapel Down’s vineyards with winemaker Andrew Parley who, while detailing the vast amounts of hard work that go into production, still conveys the love of soil and craft that spurs winemakers through each bud break and harvest season.  Don’t miss the snapshot of what it’s really like to live full-time in the world of wine at the end of the article.

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