There is a lot of talk about it, but what is AGROFORESTRY (1)? How (2) and why (3) should it be implemented in the vineyard? Here are some answers based on the choices made at Château Anthonic.
(1) The French Agroforestry Association explains on its website that "agroforestry refers to all agricultural practices that integrate trees into the production environment and are inspired, in agronomic terms, by the forest model. (...) The reintroduction of trees into agricultural landscapes is the result of a global agro-ecological reflection and can in no way be presented as an isolated solution. (...) We must therefore think of trees as a link in a wider chain of reflection on soil vegetation cover and changes in agricultural practices. "
(2) In order to transpose these principles into our vineyard, we began in 2010 by systematically planting hedges along the ditches that criss-cross the vines, while favouring grassing of the vines.
With the organic conversion in 2016, we have systematized the vegetation cover of the soil by planting cereal, leguminous and/or cruciferous plants in autumn that we roll and leave on the ground in spring. The vegetation cover provides the soil with its humus ration, while protecting it from UV and drought, and limiting compaction.
Since 2017, we have been designing all new plantings of vines to include trees in the plot itself, while we are also generalizing trees in the vineyard borders. The agroforestry system that is thus being put in place is the result of a great deal of thought, particularly with regard to the choice of tree species planted (fruit trees and local deciduous trees) and the repercussions on the density of the vine plantation and even on its pruning method.
(3) We are making all these efforts because the interest of the tree is far from being limited to its power to store carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.
The tree is a climate damper. By drawing and transpiring water from the deep layers, it cools the atmosphere in summer, while its presence limits the effect of the wind, which is responsible for significant water losses through evaporation.
The tree is an ecological hostel on all levels. Its branches are home to a variety of fauna and are a landmark for bats. It also contributes to the biodiversity of the soil, in particular by encouraging the presence of fungi (mycorrhizae) which will enrich the roots of the vine.
The tree also contributes to the drainage and fertility of the soil by restoring organic matter via the leaves that fall to the ground, the decomposition of its roots and the ramial chipped wood (RCW) that comes from its pruning (it must be pruned regularly so that it does not encroach too much on the vine).
In conclusion, planting trees in vineyards should not be the tree that hides the forest! It is part of a global agro-ecological system aimed at restoring complex ecosystems and encouraging biodiversity! Do not hesitate to come and see us to find out more than this too brief summary.