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Just planting trees won't “foster biodiversity in vineyards”

By Vitisphere March 25, 2021
Just planting trees won't “foster biodiversity in vineyards”
Regarding adaptation of vineyard management techniques, the report advises reducing tillage and switching to more surface procedures, or even just mowing. - crédit photo : Alexandre Abellan (Vitisphere)

groforestry is undeniably on-trend, in fact it’s decidedly fashionable in the wine industry with plantings and trials rapidly increasing. But Château Lagrange with its 118 hectares of 1855 Grand Cru Classé vines in Saint-Julien continues to take a methodical, rigorous approach. Benjamin Vimal, deputy director of the Médoc estate, prefers to spend time assessing and testing before launching into widespread plantations whose impact on the property’s “167 hectares of vines and other agro-ecological areas” is not predictable.

By commissioning an “ecological assessment” of the estate from the Som Industrie consultancy (a subsidiary of the Ortec group), the Grand Cru Classé was able to define and quantify biodiversity occurring in its current state. Having already introduced agro-ecological practices (preservation of woods and marshes, introduction of beehives, cover crops between the vines...), Château Lagrange has taken “land restoration recommendations” from the assessment to reinforce biodiversity on the property.

A hedge planting plan has been proposed to create ecological corridors and isolated trees will be planted to “break up the landscape monotony inherent in monoculture and connect sources of biological diversity”. The report advises 7 to 8 trees be planted on estates, “to create bridges for birds of prey. There is no need for many more”, says Vimal, who is waiting for more data and hindsight on agroforestry in the vineyards of Bordeaux.

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