Integrated Viticulture

Developed by the International Organisation for Biological Control (IOBC) over 40 years. Integrated Viticulture has it roots in IPM. Now firmly established in Switzerland (7000 hectares) and Southern Germany.

Definition: Integrated Production is a system that produces high quality food and other products by using natural resources and regulating mechanisms to replace polluting inputs and to secure sustainable farming.

Aims

A holistic approach whose main aims are:

  • Better management of resources
  • Viewing the entire farm as the basic unit
  • Balanced nutrient cycles
  • Preservation and improvement of soil fertility
  • Environmental protection
  • The central role of agro-ecosystems
  • Maintenance of a diversified environment
  • Improved crop quality
  • Economy

Guidelines

Guidelines for Integrated Production of Grapes (IOBC 1999):

  • To promote viticulture that respects the environment, is economically viable, and sustains the multiple functions of agriculture, namely its social, cultural and recreational aspects
  • To secure a sustainable production of healthy grapes of high quality and with a minimum occurrence of pesticide residues
  • To protect the farmers’ health while handling agro-chemicals
  • To promote and maintain a high biological diversity in the ecosystem of the vineyard and in surrounding areas
  • To give priority to the use of natural regulating systems
  • To preserve and promote long-term soil fertility
  • To minimise the pollution of water, soil and air

Recommended practices

Practices that are promoted to meet these principles are:

  • Reduction in chemical inputs, particularly broad-spectrum pesticides in order to protect and enhance natural regulating mechanisms
  • The establishment of a permanent or temporary green cover in regions with precipitation above 700 mm/year, thus increasing the biodiversity and ecological stability of the system and encouraging insect predators and parasitoids and controlling pests. This also controls the nitrogen cycle, reduces erosion, improves soil structure and reduces nutrient loss
  • The proper management of that cover (alternate mowing) to allow a constant supply of flowering plants
  • The mowing of the cover crop in order to synchronize the nitrogen availability in the soil with the nitrogen demand of the grapevine
  • For new vineyards, the selection and harmonisation of new sites, rootstocks, cultivars and planting systems to produce regular yields of quality grapes with a minimum use of agro-chemicals and environmentally hazardous practices
  • The training and pruning of grapevines to achieve a balance between growth and regular yields and to allow good penetration of light and sprays
  • The proper ventilation of the grape zone in humid areas
  • The conservation of soil quality and life by recycling nutrients and restricting the quantities of fertiliser used
  • The avoidance of ground water pollution with fertilisers, especially nitrates
  • Irrigation only applied according to need, on close monitoring of soil water content
  • Priority on plant protection given to indirect preventative measures (such as use of resistant cultivars, appropriate training systems, avoidance of excess nitrogen), followed by direct control measures if necessary based on economic thresholds, risk assessment and forecasting services
  • At least two key natural pest parasitoids or predators must be identified or introduced, then protected and augmented.
  • Populations of pests and diseases must be regularly monitored and recorded, using scientifically established assessment methods appropriate to the region.
  • Any treatments must be based on scientifically established threshold levels and scientific forecasts of pest risk.

Implementation

To gain endorsement by the IOBC, viticulturists form IP-organisations that submit statutes, guidelines and protocols. These can vary regionally. For certification, the grower submits complete records on fertilisers, pesticides and cultural practices and is subject to unannounced inspection at least once a year.

The performance of the grape growers is evaluated annually by means of a point system or Bonus-Malus system:

  • No points are given to traditional practices that do not make use of ‘softer’ alternatives
  • Bonus points are given to practices that are in line with IP guidelines
  • Any practice that violates IP objectives is given a Malus point and causes the disqualification of the respective farmer as an IP grower.

Certain level of Bonus points, say 50%, are required for a grower to be approved in a regional IP association, e.g. VINATURA in Switzerland.