This month we welcomed a woolly workforce to the vineyards – a flock of 40 sheep! Pre Spring, we’re embracing the natural synergy between viticulture and pastoral agriculture and setting our sheep to task, mowing our vineyards ready for the season ahead.
But what’s the point in having sheep roam about our vineyards other than to cut the grass? There might be more to it than you think…
Sheep are voracious grazers, making them excellent allies in the battle against unwanted vegetation in the vineyard. By allowing sheep to roam freely among the vines, we’re harnessing our wooly friends’ natural inclination to nibble on grasses and weeds. This organic approach to weed control reduces the need for herbicides, promoting a healthier ecosystem in the vineyard. Moreover, sheep contribute to the natural fertilisation of the soil with their droppings, enhancing its fertility and overall health.
The presence of sheep in the vineyards creates a dynamic and diverse environment. Their gentle grazing helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem by preventing the dominance of certain plant species and even promoting the growth of native flora. This, in turn, attracts a variety of insects and other wildlife, which is important to the long-term health and resilience of our vines.
Soil Aeration and Compaction
The sheets hooves contribute to soil aeration as they move through the vineyard. This process is essential for enhancing water absorption and root development. The gentle hoof action of the sheep helps alleviate soil compaction too, promoting a looser and more crumbly soil structure. This allows our vines to access nutrients more efficiently and reducing the risk of waterlogged roots.
Sustainable Vineyard Management
Our decision to integrate sheep into the vineyard management practices also aligns with our broader commitment to sustainability. Using sheep minimises the use of chemical inputs, reducing the carbon footprint associated with traditional vineyard maintenance methods, and enhancing overall biodiversity.