Working with nature, rather than against it, is the central tenet of sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming. This includes utilizing nature’s army of beneficial life forms, rather than fighting against them. Insects, invertebrates, birds and mammals are all surprising little helpers in the production of healthy, wholesome crops of grapes and cider apples.
In Kamptal, Austria, Fred Loimer converted his vineyards to organic farming in 2006. Part of that change entailed creating a vineyard attractive to wildlife.
“You need varied greenery around your vineyard, trees and shrubs, where insects can live, breed and feed,” he says. “Vegetation between rows is also important. You realize quickly how many more bumblebees and butterflies you see.
“But even more important is what cover crops do to the soil,” says Loimer. “As they decay and decompose over their natural lifecycle, they provide crucial nutrients for soil life. There is far more going on below [ground] than above ground. It’s of enormous importance.”
Earthworms, in particular, can form a great tool for a winemaker.