Cover-cropping is an ancient practice for fertilising the vineyard
Cover-cropping, also known as green-manuring, is an ancient practice for fertilising the vineyard in a totally natural fashion, utilising the ability of certain plants, such as legumes, to transfer nutrients to the soil. Cover-cropping improves soil structure as well, since it contributes to preventing erosion.
Guido Berlucchi’s agronomists use various mixtures of seeds for cover-cropping, paying close attention to soil types. White mustard is one of the preferred plants, since it has a hardy, deep-penetrating root that breaks through compact soil and improves its structure. One of its additional beneficial properties is that it combats nematodes, a type of worm harmful in the vineyard, thanks to the high sulphur content in its tissues.
Likewise much employed are vetch and favas, two legumes useful for absorbing nitrogen and fixing it in the soil, thanks to rhizobacteria present on their roots. Another useful, and quite lovely plant is phacelia, or desert bluebells; a rapid-growing borage, its blue flower attracts many bees and useful insects, while its roots strenthen the soil.
Photo credits: Andrea Zampatti