Erosion Control

December 30, 2011

 

 

The weather this year continues to be strange. The Fall was unusually wet, and now we are having the driest Winter since 1989. This has some ramifications in the vineyard. For one, our cover crops have not been growing as quickly as they would have in a more normal year because there is simply less water in the soil than would be ideal. This is not necesarily a big problem, since it is not dry enough out to kill the young plants, and one good rain should allow them to catch up pretty rapidly.

We are hopeful for some rain before too much longer, and in preparation we have begun putting some erosion control in place in our vineyards.

Erosion is a name for a category of geological processes in which soil and rock are removed from an area over time. In our case, we are specifically referring to the effect of rainwater on some of our steeper hillside vineyards. Rainwater has the tendency to break up exposed topsoil on impact, and on steep hillsides the flow of rainwater can sometimes lead to ‘channeling’, where a rivulet quickly develops into a fast moving channel that carries all that broken up topsoil away. Topsoil is, of course, requisite for farming, and its’ volume and quality are especially important to organic farming operations like ours. To keep the hillsides from washing away, we apply a layer of hay to the soil surface.

The hay works to prevent erosion in several ways. First, it prevents the rain from directly impacting on the exposed topsoil as it falls, keeping it from breaking up the soil surface. Second, it slows the water down as it flows downhill, preventing it from producing channels. The hay needs to be several inches thick for this technique to work, or the water will just carry it away.

 
Our steepest hillsides are in the China Bowl vineyard at the foot of the property, so that’s where we’ve been focusing our efforts so far.
This hillside is at the northern end of the China Bowl, it’s steep and somewhat long, making it especially prone to channeling.
 
To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.
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