Thursday, 23 April 2020 12:47

Green Leaders

Written by  Olly Styles
Attendees at the field day. Attendees at the field day.

Hawke’s Bay celebrated its inaugural biodiversity field day in early February, with grower Xan Harding leading a posse of viticulturist utes on a tiki tour around the wider Bridge Pa area.

First stop was the under-vine and inter-row trial at Villa Maria, where Paul Robinson took attendees through the thinking behind an experiment that saw multiple native species planted under the rows, and two mixtures of cover crop treatments. They were “trying to get away from the single-species, monoculture thing”, Paul says.

Research Viticulturist Raquel Kallas said the trial, which ran through two blocks - Merlot on silt loam and Syrah on gravels - was inspired by the Greening Waipara Project (see pg 26) and the associated study through Lincoln University, which found that diversity had a positive impact in the vineyard. The South Island project found, for instance, that species like Leptinella squalida encouraged a natural predator of mealybug.

While clearly a popular initiative, the Villa Maria trials had so far failed to show any direct outcome. “The control looks much the same as the vines with cover crops,” said Raquel. She was, however, pleased that none of the treatments had been “stressful” to the vines and hoped that more funding would be secured for further trials.

With the words “you cannot address climate change without addressing biodiversity”, Xan led the group through his Bridge Pa triangle property, where he is looking to create a suitable habitat for one of his favourite creatures, the skink. Xan’s thinking, though, is in more broad environmental terms - he is actively looking to promote more personal enjoyment from the vineyard, and pushing to get safe cycling paths through his vines.

Then the ute tour went to Paritua, where work is ongoing to improve riparian plantings on the Paritua Stream, itself part of the Karamu catchment which ultimately feeds the Ngaruroro River. The emphasis here was to work on the upper catchments and then move down, said Paritua neighbour Cairn Coghill, from Sileni. Xan was keen for Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers to adopt this as an industry project.

Talking of the overall vision, he said, “if we lead on this, we get the chance to influence the rules, and that’s never a bad thing”. The biodiversity programme is run under the auspices of HBVine - a local viticultural group led by vineyard stalwarts Ian and Linda Quinn, who head up the Two Terraces vineyard in the Mangatahi sub-region. 

More like this

Drought's back with interest

Many parts of the east coast of the North Island - especially from Wairoa down to Central Hawke's Bay - are in a crisis state with a severe autumn drought. Peter Burke drove through the area last week and reports that streams and springs are drying up and sheep in some places are struggling to find anything green.

Small steps boost farm's biodiversity

Farmers discovered that there are many ways to protect and enhance mahinga kai and biodiversity values while visiting Waimak Farm in Eyreton recently.

Bay's roller coaster ride with drought

Lochie MacGillivray says Hawke's Bay needs more rain in the next couple of weeks or there is a risk of the region slipping back into drought conditions.

» Latest Print Issues Online


Perfect pivots — Editorial

Perfect pivots — Editorial

Misha Wilkinson’s description of “pirouetting” through Covid-19 seems apt, given the industry’s need to stay on its toes throughout this…

Save our soils — Editorial

Save our soils — Editorial

There’s been something of a makeover in New Zealand vineyards in recent years, as the clean-cut look of sprayed rows…

Popular Reads

Wineries set for seismic shakes

Four years after the Kaikōura earthquake, Marlborough wineries are far better prepared for a big shake, says structural engineer Will…