Rathfinny Wine Estate

Soil – not dirt

It is often said that we know less about our oceans than we do our solar system, what is more amazing is that we know less about our soil under our feet than we do the surface of the moon.

In order to broaden my knowledge last week I attended a field lab on Soil analysis, which looked at different approaches to soil analysis and comparing them. As growers we are faced today with various methods and approaches to assess the fertility and health of our soils, and new methods are being continuously developed.

Soil is the basis of life on our planet- along with air and water. Which is why it is important to everyone, not just growers and farmers to look after it.

At Rathfinny we use herbicides to keep the area under the vines free from weeds and although they are known to have an effect on soil microbiology there are ways in which we can counteract this effect. Seaweed fertilizers and compost both help liven up the soil and help to counteract this predicament. We could cultivate under the vines like many organic producers do, but this in itself has its own problems. It can damage roots, and can radically disrupt the soil structure causing erosion, so in its own way effecting the biology of the soil.

We’re due to start composting under the vines soon, to help things along as the weather slowly warms up. And shortly after the vines awaken from their winter slumber, on will go the Seaweed, all helping those invisible soil microbes help us.

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And now to get you thinking….

Even though soil is half empty space (this is what distinguishes it from rock) a handful of soil has more microorganisms in it than there are people on the planet.

The world is a complicated ecosystem and soils are an important piece. Plants, microorganisms, water, all come together in the soil, and what happens in the soil dictates what happens in the ecosystem.

So next time you’re standing on soil, have a little thought for what you’re actually standing on, the rooftop of another kingdom.

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