Can Vineyards Have an Impact on Carbon Cycling?

   University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor Glenn McGourty is taking a scientific look at a biodynamic farming practice called “carbon cycling” in a 1.5-acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard at the U.C. Hopland Research and Extension Center in Mendocino County, the trade magazine Wines & Vines reports.

     Here are excerpts from that report:

      “Carbon cycling” is getting increased attention due to concerns about global warming, which scientists believe is partly caused by carbon released into the planet’s upper atmosphere. The breakdown of soil carbon speeds up under more intense crop management systems that require extensive tillage.

      “Biodynamic farmers recycle almost all of their agricultural waste products,” McGourty said. “When you cycle carbon into your own farm, you recycle the vegetative waste and animal manure, and use crop rotation to break pest and disease cycles. You grow cover crops to enhance carbon fixation in the soil. You conserve energy by not hauling what some consider waste materials away from the farm. In turn, crop and animal residues provide nutrition for your crops.”

      Enhancing the carbon cycle on the farm, McGourty said, is an environmental service that agriculture can provide by parking carbon in the soil, rather than allowing it to drift into earth’s upper atmosphere.

      “We’ve got 3,000 acres of certified organic vineyards and 1,500 acres of biodynamic farms in Mendocino County,” McGourty noted. “I’m committed to helping all of my clientele. I want them all to be successful at what they do.”

      And if it helps the environment at the same time, so much the better.


Posted in Wine and the Environment
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