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