Pesticide Spraying: French Vineyard
French farmers spend several billion Euros on pesticides each year. A large number of pesticide treatments are made to crops in France: wheat (4), sugarbeets (4), rapeseed (6), potatoes (17), apples (36) and vineyards (7-22). The French government has announced a policy to reduce the use of pesticides by 50%. The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) estimated the impacts on crop production as a result of the pesticide use reductions.
“The results demonstrated that the commitment of the Environment Round Table to a 50% reduction of pesticide use from current levels is a difficult target to achieve. During an average year similar to 2006, this could correspond to the results of a simulation under which all French farming would switch to integrated production: the reduction in pesticide use would then be estimated at 50% in arable crops, 37% in viticulture, 21% in fruit orchards and 100% in grasslands; drops in yield (in value terms) would then be observed, estimated at 12% for arable crops, 24% for viticulture and 19% for fruits (based on 2006 prices).”
Title: Ecophyto R&D – which options to reduce pesticide use?
Source: Ecophyto R&D. January 2010. Pgs. 1-8.
Planting a new vineyard in a weedy field is a bad idea. Weeds would compete with the small vines for moisture, space, nutrients and light which would set back their growth. Thus, in establishing a new vineyard, growers need to clear the weeds out. Most growers use synthetic chemical herbicides when planting a new vineyard due to the high cost of hand weeding and negative effects of tillage. Using herbicides is an option for organic growers since the small vines do not produce grapes for several years which corresponds to the waiting time to be certified as organic.
“…weed management is the most expensive and technically challenging practice for organic grape production, and many organic farmers rely on mechanical and hand cultivation for weed control. Although these methods are highly effective, they are also labor intensive, more expensive, and their sustainability is questionable from a labor and environmental perspective.
Another option would be to use conventional production techniques that use synthetic herbicides during the establishment phase, and once established, transition the vineyard to achieve organic certification.”
Authors: Olmstead, M., et al.
Affiliations: Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Florida.
Title: Weed control in a newly established organic vineyard.
Source: Hort Technology. December 2012. 22(6):757-765.