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TitleThe relative sustainability of organic, biodynamic and conventional viticulture: Part 1: Soil health
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPenfold, C, Johnston, L, Marschner, P, Bastian, S, Collins, C
MagazineAustralian and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker
Issue Number616

This article is the first of a two-part look at recent research carried out to establish what impact different viticulture techniques have on the impact of soil health, vine health and wine characteristics. principal researchers were Christopher Penfold, Luke Johnston, Professor Petra Marschner and Associate Professor Susan Bastian, the project supervisor was Cassandra Collins, all from the University of Adelaide. Organic and biodynamic viticulture is forecast to grow at more than 11 per cent each year, yet there is little information on the benefits or otherwise that can be attributed to these systems of grape production. With industry funding, a six-year trial at McLaren Vale in South Australia investigated the changes in soil health, fruit production and wine quality. The trial results showed that organic and biodynamic production led to improved soil quality, with more soil organisms including much greater earthworm populations. Wine quality was also improved, but in the absence of price premiums, this was achieved at a financial penalty to the grower through reduced yields and increased production costs.