My Latest in The Vintner Project:
The Buzz on Insectaries
by L.M. Archer
As more wineries turn to sustainable farming practices, many are employing insectaries, rather than chemicals, to fight pests.
“We’re growing plants that attract predatory insects in order to kill the “bad bugs” that can damage our vines, instead of spraying pesticides to eliminate those same bugs,” explains Chris Benziger, Brand Ambassador of Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma. Some of these “beneficial bug”-attracting plants include Russian Sage, Blackeyed Susan, and Purple Cone-flower.
“This method also saves the biomass under our feet in the topsoil,” says Benziger, whose family helped pioneer sustainable farming in California. Pesticides kill the biomass and collapse soil, creating problems like erosion and shallow root systems. “Utilizing an insectary, rather than pesticides, allows that biomass to survive and thrive,” he says, “and it allows the grapevine roots to reach deep into the soil.”
Vigneron Dai Crisp of Lumos Wine in Philomath, Ore, entices ‘good’ bugs by ensuring a steady food source of pollen within the vineyard when bad bugs aren’t around to eat.
“A strategy we have used is alternate row mowing of the alleyways between vine rows,” he says. “We mow the tall rows when we see flowers opening in the short vegetation rows. The scientific evidence suggests that the overall diversity of insects increases, and the number of total insects increases with this practice. Allowing a diversity of vegetation to grow outside the vineyard area also promotes better balance of insect diversity.” READ MORE HERE.