Vineyards produce a remarkable amount of waste that can be re-used to enhance the flavor of your grapes and save your vineyard money. Compost is used to increase organic matter in the soil and to reduce erosion. It also supports nutrients for growth and can alter soil structure. The benefits of composting can carry over several seasons, not just the normal production season. If you buy fertilizer from a supplier, there are many reasons to consider making your own instead.
Composting in your vineyard or winery
Compost is used as fertilizer. While you likely know grape vines need less fertilizer than most other crops, they still can benefit from the product. Depending on the size of your operation, you can buy fertilizer from commercial suppliers. Most fertilizers are a mix of mulch, animal manure, straw bedding, fiber waster, and miscellaneous foods.
It is important to remember that organic waste that hasn’t gone through the composting process can contain odors, weeds, seeds, and plant pathogens. The nutrient benefits outlined above are more unpredictable if the process isn’t complete. Compost that is complete will be uniform in texture and color and have an earthy smell.
Is commercial compost your only choice?
You may want to consider supplementing with commercial products, but there is plenty of waste you can compost from your own vineyards. Your vineyard likely produces lees, sludge, stalk, and grape pomace. All these materials can be incorporated into a compost pile. In fact, composting waste from your vineyard or winery can produce high-quality compost more easily than other operations.
Grape pomace, the primary byproduct from vineyards and wineries, is higher in proteins that are ideal for the composting process. Also, this waste has low acid content and high carbon-nitrogen ratio, which is great for composting.
How to create your own compost with a composting machine
The best way to create large amounts of compost is to form windrows. Windrows are long piles that can be arranged in rows to compost significant amounts of organic material at one time. These piles can take anywhere from days to months to reach maturity, depending on the method you use and how many times you turn them.
You can use large turner machines to shift the compost and aerate the soil to encourage the composting process. Compost turners come in a variety of models and can be customized to fit your needs. They can be large, small, run on different mechanisms, and even move your windrow around.
Your compost turner should be able to move across the windrows with ease, so be sure to purchase one that will fit the pile’s measurements. Although it may seem like a costly investment, making your own compost should be more cost-effective and efficient. You will be in control of everything that goes into making your compost, including the material, mixing process, and completion time.
How to apply the compost to your vineyard
The compost application depends on the rate you need, the availability for uptake into your vines, and the amount you need to apply. The actual amount you apply will depend on your vineyard, its location, and what you’re growing. For the best estimate, you should perform soil nutrient analyses and leaf analyses. You can usually ask your local university for help with this testing for a fee.
Compost turners from SCARAB International
If you would like more information about using a compost turner for your vineyard or winery, contact the experts at Scarab International today. We can help you examine your needs and suggest several models that will work for you. Our compost turners can be customized for large, medium, and small operations. Call us at (806) 883-7621 or Contact Us by email to learn more about our Products and Services. We offer New, Used, and Refurbished turners, as well as Leasing Options.