A Wine World Beyond Glyphosate
Glyphosate is arguably the most controversial word in the agricultural world as well as its most popular herbicide.
The World Health Organization through its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Research indicates potential impacts in increasing crop diseases, changing the composition and functioning of soil microorganism species and ecosystems, and recently published studies are showing a negative impact on earthworms.
Chances are you’ll find just equal amounts of data saying the exact opposite. In fact, it is often argued that ‘organic’ treatments such as copper or sulphur damage the environment more than synthetic sprays.
The science behind one or the other generates controversy and, some argue, is insufficient. But science as a whole requires controversy to move ahead.
As we focus on the facts, countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Mexico have pledged to phase out the use of glyphosate at different paces. Others have banned it already.
The Farm to Fork strategy and the Green Deal have set targets to reduce the overall use and risk of all chemical pesticides (including herbicides such as glyphosate) by 50%.
Numerous wine producers find that the elimination of glyphosate in certain wine regions will end viticulture as a whole. Others are starting to face up to the challenge of phasing it out or stopped using it long ago, compensating it by promoting non-chemical weed management (e.g. crop rotation, mechanical weeding, closer seeding), thus increasing the usage of mechanical equipment and therefore of fossil fuels. Some have never used it. Others are looking for similar alternatives with a different name.
Regardless, climate change is always on the equation, whether it is through an approach that affects the life of soil, fauna and flora or the choice of alternatives focused on the increased usage of fossil fuels.
In this Climate Talk we will approach this topic from a solutions perspective, rather than a controversial one. As the title suggests, it is not about glyphosate, but about building on possibilites of a wine world beyond it.
We will explore how wine producers are and can phase out the use of chemical pesticides in different regions, as well as the benefits and the challenges encountered. We will explore different solutions and approaches, starting with nature-based ones and forward.
- What are the main impacts of Glyphosate on the wine ecosystem?
- In terms of environmental impact, what are the similarities and differences between glyphosate and copper?
- What alternatives and solutions, can you share that you have used to either phase out or replace herbicides?
- What is the feasible time frame for a wine producer to phase-out herbicides and introduce other solutions? What are the challenges he normally faces? and benefits?
- As Glyphosate usage is being abandoned, isn’t there a risk for other herbicides or products used that are just as harmful?
LINDA JOHNSON-BELL . UK
Wine writer, author, consultant, magazine editor and Founder of the Oxford’s Wine and Climate Change Institute
PAULO PEREIRA. PORTUGAL
Partner at NBI – Natural Business Intelligence
Paulo Pereira. Biologist (FCUL), specialized in Botany (University of Barcelona) and Numerical Ecology (Université de Montreal); Musician, founder of Andanças Festival. Between 1997 and 2005 he coordinated the Macroecology and Conservation Unit of the University of Évora. He co-founded two start-up companies, Sustainable Ideas and Macromia, having participated in European and national projects to value the territory and nature tourism, especially the ‘Water and Stone Route’. Technical coordinator at the Portuguese Botanical Society (SPB), co-coordinator of the Red List of the Continental Flora of Portugal and co-responsible for the mapping of habitats of some SIC’s. He’s currently Partner at NBI (Natural Business Intelligence), responsible for Ecosystems area.
MIMI CASTEEL . USA
Owner and Winemaker at Hope Well
Mimi grew up on her family’s vineyard, Bethel Heights. Growing up working in the vineyard and winery, Mimi gained such an appreciation for the industry that she promptly left home after high school. Armed with a BA in History and Classics from Tulane University, Mimi spent the next year working in various National Forests across the west. Her adventures fueled her passion for studying botany, forestry, and ecology. Mimi earned her MS from Oregon State University in Forest Science, and spent the next several years working as a botanist and ecologist for the Forest Service, living in the backcountry. Her work in the forests led her to realize that the greatest threats to the future of the planet and all species had to be addressed at its root – in the agricultural and working land base. Mimi returned to Bethel Heights in 2005, where she implemented new farming systems and began a journey of experimentation and discovery. In 2016 Mimi left Bethel Heights to grow and make wine at her home vineyard and living laboratory, Hope Well. Hope Well is the living model for a habitat-based regenerative model for agriculture. Mimi’s experiments are all with the goal of producing the most nutrient-dense, healthy food and wine, while recovering the natural systems of nutrient cycling, improving biodiversity and species retention, and maximizing the function and output of a diverse ecosystem.
Director and Founder at the LAMS
Emmanuel Bourguignon has been working as the director of development at the Laboratoire d’Analyses Microbiologiques des Sols (LAMS). This independent laboratory was founded in 1990 by his parents, the Dr Claude Bourguignon and his wife Lydia Bourguignon which are recognised authorities on soil health and protection. For over 20 years, they have been raising awareness that soil is a living medium which is being destroyed on an unprecedented scale by human activities, especially intensive agriculture.
It is easy to see why early on Emmanuel was interested by the complexity and fragility of soil and its role in the health and stability of all terrestrial ecosystems. In 1998, he integrated the University of Aberdeen (UK) and in 2002, he completed his B.Sc. in Soil Science under the guidance of Prof. Ken Killham one of UK’s foremost authorities on soil ecology. He then, joined the LIMOS at the University of Nancy (France) and completed his Master in soil microbiology in 2003. Motivated by the interactions between plants and soil microorganisms with applications to agriculture, he decided to apply for a Ph.D. at the Bio-Protection Research Centre (Lincoln University, NZ). The research focused on the ecology of soil fungi (Trichoderma) in vegetable cropping systems and their ability to naturally reduce pathogens pressure.
In 2008, after successfully defending his thesis, Emmanuel came back to France to join the LAMS as a consultant in soil microbiology, ecology and agronomy for vineyards, farmers, golf course, city councils, botanic gardens. His aim is to help them set up sustainable agricultural practices which respect soils, their biodiversity and the environment. Researches at the LAMS have focused on studying biological activity of agricultural soils by measuring the activity of alkaline phosphatase and studying the biodiversity of the micro-fauna of agricultural soil (collembola, acaria, myriapodes, etc) enabling to quantify soil health. In parallel to his consulting, Emmanuel completed in 2009 a degree of oenology technician at the Université de Bourgogne enabling him to become the chief soil consultant and winemaker for an up and coming vineyard in Turkey. He also gives conferences and training for different types of audiences (vineyard managers, farmers, green keepers, general public).
Emmanuel lives in Dijon (France) and travels between most wine producing countries. When not consulting or speaking, he will most likely be found fly fishing for trout or salmon.