The Crush.March2021 - 1

Volume 48 Issue 3 March 2021


Soil Health, Quality Factors in Vineyard Management
By Ted Rieger
Soil characteristics and health are important considerations for
siting, developing and managing vineyards. Although significant
research has been conducted to evaluate and understand soil
physical and chemical characteristics, less is understood about
soil health related to soil biology, ecosystems and processes
within soils.
Studies indicate that vineyard soil health can be enhanced with
three management practices: reducing soil disturbance/tillage,
planting cover crops and increasing soil organic matter with
compost applications.
A recent UC Davis (UCD) Department of Viticulture and Enology
virtual short course - " Healthy Vineyard Soils " - presented
current knowledge and research to better understand how to
integrate principles of soil health into grapevine production
in California. Dr. Christina Lazcano of the UCD Department
of Land, Air and Water Resources distinguished between the
concepts of soil health and soil quality. Soil quality includes soil
fertility; the amounts of chemical nutrients such as nitrogen
(N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K); and soil texture.
Soil health is more related to processes and functions and the
capacity to supply nutrients to the plant. The Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) defines soil health as, " The
continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem
that sustains plants, animals and humans. "
Lazcano said the idea that " soils are living systems " is a
newer concept. " More work is being done to learn about
soil biological systems and it shows that soils are very
diverse ecosystems, " she said. Soil is an essential and
non-renewable resource, not only for crop
production, but is also being viewed as
important for environmental quality and
climate change mitigation.

A soil pit is displayed during a field day in the Lodi AVA. Photo: Ted Rieger

Properties of healthy soils include: good water infiltration,
drainage and storage; the ability to support high yield and high
quality crops; efficiently supplying nutrients to plants; retaining
and recycling nutrients; carbon (C) storage; reducing greenhouse
gases (GHG); maintaining diversity in soil organisms; and having
high microbial capacities. " The tractor row has the highest
potential to sequester carbon, " Lazcano said. " Layering compost
applications with cover crops are potentially beneficial practices. "
UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist Dr. Kaan Kurtural
said significant vineyard development and redevelopment are
occurring in California, and he provided information about
soil characteristics and evaluation in preparing vineyard sites.
General soil factors to consider include: tilth (physical suitability
to grow the crop); physical limitations (poor drainage, other
barriers); chemical limitations (lime content or high magnesium/
Mg); fertility (excess or insufficient organic matter); and soil
variability (a challenge to uniform growth).


The Crush.March2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush.March2021

The Crush.March2021 - 1
The Crush.March2021 - 2
The Crush.March2021 - 3
The Crush.March2021 - 4
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