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Sustainable Winegrowing & Biological Farming


All our vineyards belong to Sustainable Winegrowing NZ www.nzwine.com/swnz.
We have also made it mandatory for all of our contract growers to attain full membership and to gain accreditation prior to us accepting grapes. Currently all growers belong and comply with this accreditation.
 
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Coopers Creek goes a lot further than the minimum standard in the NZ Sustainable programme as we are adopting many of the management procedures of Biological Farming. This is an on-going approach which will take some time to fully implement but the aim is to reduce our environmental inputs dramatically. We currently mandate to our growers a zero residue policy.
 
Biological Farming is the most sustainable programme, even more so than organics.
 
This from the Bio Ag website.
‘Many progressive NZ farmers are seeking alternatives to their current management practices, particularly their reliance on pesticides and high analysis fertilisers. Biological farming is one such alternative. It presents a viable method of producing high quality, nutritious produce with reduced dependence on inorganic fertilisers, pesticides or gene modification.
 
Biological farming is based on scientific principles and common sense. Central to this is the realisation that microbes are the basis of all agricultural production systems. Many growers are already familiar with the importance of microbes in ruminant nutrition. Another example is the role of Rhizobium bacteria in encouraging nitrogen fixation in legumes.
 
We need to understand the natural processes that occur on the vineyard, and then learn how to look for the indicators that identify a lack of microbial activity – and its obvious effect on available plant nutrition. Insects, disease and weeds are such indicators. Conventional management dictates that these pests are removed using pesticides. Biological farming addresses the cause of these problems, rather than the symptoms.

In order to maximise plant-available nutrition, it is necessary to create a thriving and sustainable microbial activity in the soil itself. In most farmed soils, the size and diversity of the soil foodweb is now insufficient to provide self-sustaining fertility and plant nutrition at required levels of production.
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This not only decreases the amount of organic matter converted to humus and microbial activity over time, but impacts on the soil’s capacity to hold water. For example, it is estimated that a one percent increase in humus can allow soil to hold an extra 80,000 litres of water per hectare.
 
The application of microbial nutrients, such as fermented liquid cultures, to bare earth or foliage helps to establish a thriving and sustainable microbial population in the soil. The soil foodweb plays an important role in converting previously-applied calcium and phosphate that has been locked up as tri-calcium phosphate back into plant-usable forms. If the system is balanced, the soil foodweb will also help to maintain a satisfactory soil pH. By improving soil microbial mass and diversity, producers can improve the natural fertility of their soils. In turn, this increases the amount of plant-available and therefore livestock-available nutrients.’
 
Biological farming presents a major challenge to conventional thinking, but it's what we're pursuing on the land where we source our grapes.