A recent study found that the soil associated with organic gardening, when compared to that of conventional methods or native grasslands, was very similar in types and diversity of mycorrhizal fungal taxa to that of the native soils. Increasingly, viticulturalists are promoting the sustainability of using organic techniques over the fungicide heavy approaches of conventional wine management practices, and they claim, that this fundamental investment in “terroir” makes better wine. One method is to restore the density and diversity of beneficial, symbiotic fungi in the vineyard soil. These fungi are seriously depleted in soils that have had extensive chemical fertilizers, fungicides or pesticides applied.
Mycorrhizal inoculum applied to new vines plantings and as a dressing to cover crop, used to improve nitrogen availability in vineyard soils, associate with vine roots and increase both the available levels of organic carbon and the water holding capacity of the surrounding soils. And with healthy vines, and a biological approach to vineyard management in place, the rhizosphere community rich in mycorrhizal fungi can influence the quality of wine produced. Look for a future article that discusses how these fungi influence the chemistry of wine grapes.
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