Black beauty

Biochar boosts vine­yard

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - ROGER HAN­SON

A VINE­YARD at Bag­dad in south­ern Tas­ma­nia has as its core prin­ci­ple build­ing fer­til­ity in the soil.

Graeme Roberts and his wife, Pip, run Bag­dad Hills Vine­yard us­ing bio­dy­namic prin­ci­ples to im­prove the health of the soils of do­lerite and quartz sand on their 5ha prop­erty.

They have 2ha un­der vine, grow­ing Shi­raz, Pinot Noir, Ries­ling and Sau­vi­gnon Blanc.

“We bought the prop­erty in 1998 and the soil needed to be im­proved and we wanted to do it with­out us­ing chem­i­cals,” Mr Roberts said.

The pH level of 4.7 was typ­i­cal for the sandy soils while the do­lerite was at 5.7.

“After10 years the sandy soil was 5.7 and do­lerite 6.7. We in­creased the pH level by a full point. Good soil is neu­tral at 7,” he said.

“By em­ploy­ing bio­dy­namic prin­ci­ples it has brought a whole new life to the mi­cro or­gan­isms in the soil, stim­u­lat­ing them to op­er­ate in a more or­derly man­ner.”

Mr Roberts makes biochar, which is vari­ant of char­coal and is used to im­prove the soil qual­ity.

“To make a re­ally ef­fec­tive biochar you mix it with any brew rich in micro­organ­isms, for ex­am­ple fish tea or ma­nure teas.”

Mr Roberts said bio­dy­nam­ics is ideal for or­ganic smaller farms, vegetable gar­dens and or­chards.

“It’s an in­flu­ence to im­prov­ing the health of the prop­erty. I think with us, bio­dy­nam­ics has helped im­prove flavour of the wine and helps us be as self-suf­fi­cient as we can.”

Pic­tures: SAM ROSEWARNE

VI­SION: Graeme Roberts in his vine­yard at Bag­dad. From top: new growth; maki­ing biochar; the fin­ished prod­uct.

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