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Electromagnetic conductivity mapping and harvest zoning: deciphering relationships between soil and wine quality

Ernest BEASLEY et al. ; HydroGeo Environmental - LLC, Pollak Vineyards - Vitipiont International Research Centre, Virginia

Electromagnetic conductivity mapping and harvest zoning: deciphering relationships between soil and wine quality

Previous research suggests that geophysical surveys have the potential to increase vineyard profitability and improve wine quality by shaping vineyard management practices to make the most of small-scale soil variations, unique to the growing site.  It has also been suggested that geophysics could serve as a useful tool for prospecting and site selection

Soil properties have long been known to affect wine quality and numerous published works have attempted to shed light on this complex dynamic .  A recent study in Virginia suggested correlations between soil K and fruit pH (an important wine quality parameter affected by fruit K ) on single sites with other confounding viticultural and environmental variables controlled

Potassium availability in the soil can vary greatly and deficiencies can occur; however, in Virginia excess K by wine grapes is much more common than K  deficiency.  Growers are commonly led to believe by laboratory analysis that potassium levels in their soils are low, when petiole analysis from the same location often shows elevated K  levels in the plant tissue.  This has historically led to unnecessary K additions to many Mid-Atlantic vineyards and has recently brought potassium nutrition into the spotlight in the commercial wine industry of the Mid- Atlantic US.

This work integrates EM mapping and GIS technology, field geology and experimental winemaking to examine the soil- vine relationship within a single vineyard block. 

Paper presented at the XI International Terroir Congress, July 2016, McMinnville, Oregon (USA).  

Published on 06/17/2018
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