Ground cover planting issues on wine quality

Project information

Index: 0793R2
Priority:2: Environment and risk prevention
Sub Theme:Cultural heritage and landscape
Location SWITZERLAND Lavaux Start/End date of the practice
Start: 2002
End: 2006

Topic of the practice

Strategies and actions to face soil erosions

Good Practice Information

Erosion is no longer a matter in Lavaux. It has been fought with the transverse terracing, the water settlement and the ground cover planting. But the cover crops can somehow damage the wine quality, because the plant has a lack of water or nitrogen. A study has been held in the Canton of Vaud to search which ground cover planting could help to keep a high quality wine despite the cover planting, which is essential for fighting erosion and maintain the biodiversity. A reseach station called Agroscope (which depends on the Federal Office of Agriculture) studied different types of cover planting, in order to maintain the quality of the wine. 5 species were cultivated and observed. The first one was the grass “Pérennes”, which doesn’t need to be sown and grow naturally. The second and the third ones were 2 species of grass “à ressemis” (Bromus tectorum and Hordeum murinum) and the last ones were 2 species of leguminous plants “à ressemis” (Trifolium subeterraneum and Trifolium repens).

Evidence of success

The study, published in 2006, showed that the 2 species of grass “à ressemis” could help in maintaining the quality of the wine because they minimized the competition between the plant and the grass regarding water. Therefore the plant was enabled to absorb the quantity it needs. On the other hand, the 2 species of leguminous plants were good alternatives for nitrogen supply (same concept of minimizing the competition between the plant and the grass but regarding the nitrogen). Indeed, the 4 species “à ressemis” improved the vine’s vigour and the production capacity of the plant. However, further studies have to be undertaken before the use of these species by the wine-growers (about the way of sowing and the production of these cover plantings).

Contact details to obtain further information on the practice

Emmanuel Estoppey

CIL Commission Intercommunale de Lavaux

Annex completed on: 04-23-2012

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