Minimum tillage in Mediterranean vineyards [Portugal]
- Compiler: Carla Ferreira
- Editor: –
- Reviewers: Ursula Gaemperli, Gudrun Schwilch
technologies_2879 - Portugal
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1. General information
1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology
Key resource person(s)
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)Interactive Soil Quality assessment in Europe and China for Agricultural productivity and Environmental Resilience (EU-iSQAPER)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)Centro de Estudos de Rescursos Naturais, Ambiente e Sociedade (CERNAS) - Portugal
1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT
When were the data compiled (in the field)?
The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:
1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology
Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?
2. Description of the SLM Technology
2.1 Short description of the Technology
Definition of the Technology:
Minimum tillage in vineyards is performed in alternated inter-row zone, to promote soil decompation and maintain partial vegetation cover.
2.2 Detailed description of the Technology
Portugal is one of the larger wine producers in Europe, with vineyard area covering 27% of permanent crops. Vineyards play an important role in the Portuguese economy, not only due to the impact of wine industry but also the important cultural heritage and great influence on tourism sector. There are thirteen specialized wine regions in the country, from which we highlight Bairrada region, located in central mainland, where minimum tillage is becoming popular. Bairrada has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by a long dry summer, although the strong influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Vineyard is the most relevant crop in Bairrada. In this region, farmland is mostly cultivated by landowners, comprising small winegrowers (5-10ha), most of them members of local farmers associations, as well as large producers (100-500ha) with a relevant position in the world wine market.
In vineyards, tillage is performed to promote de-compaction of the typical medium/fine soils and weeds control. In Bairrada wine region, soil tillage is usually performed twice per year – in autumn and spring, depending on weather conditions. Tillage is performed with a ripper and disc arrow (10-15cm), since mechanized vineyards require vines arranged according to horizontal wire bundles. However, tillage activities favour soil degradation, namely due to soil erosion and increasing mineralization of organic matter. In order to mitigate land degradation, minimum tillage of inter-row zone was adopted. No tillage is not applied by the farmers due to the need to de-compact the soil, favoured by the relatively high clay content. The minimum tillage is performed in alternated inter-rows, to keep vegetation cover in part of the vineyard. Tillage inter-row switch every time, so that each inter-row is not tilled more than once per year. Weeds control in the non-tilled inter-rows is performed using a rotary brush mower. In the plant zone, weeds are controlled with herbicides, applied twice per year: autumn-winter (before vine plant winding) and spring-summer (during vegetative growth). During the hot dry summer, weeds are naturally controlled due to water-stress. Mechanical intervention is also performed for pest and disease control, generally applied as preventive measures. Phytosanitary treatments are performed upon receipt of notices from Regional Directorate of Agriculture or technicians from local farmers association. These notices also include recommendations about the type of products and the application rate. In the majority of the Region, pruning and harvesting is performed manually. Pruning residues are typically mowed and left at the soil surface.
The adoption of minimum tillage was triggered by governmental subsidies. Farmers recognize the impact of this technology on the environment, namely on preventing soil degradation and enhancing biodiversity. However, soil compaction and water competition between vegetation cover and vines (over the summer) are major concerns.
2.3 Photos of the Technology
2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment
2.6 Date of implementation
If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
- less than 10 years ago (recently)
2.7 Introduction of the Technology
- motivated by financial support from the government
Comments (type of project, etc.):
Technical recommendations provided by technicians of farmers associations.
3. Classification of the SLM Technology
3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology
- reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied
- Tree and shrub cropping
Main crops (cash and food crops):
3.3 Further information about land use
Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
Number of growing seasons per year:
One harvesting per year
3.4 SLM group to which the Technology belongs
- improved ground/ vegetation cover
- minimal soil disturbance
3.5 Spread of the Technology
Specify the spread of the Technology:
- evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, indicate approximate area covered:
- 100-1,000 km2
3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology
- A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
- A3: Soil surface treatment
3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology
soil erosion by water
- Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
physical soil deterioration
- Pc: compaction
3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation
Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
- reduce land degradation
4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs
4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology
4.2 Technical specifications/ explanations of technical drawing
Minimum tillage in vineyards is performed in the inter-row zone, in alternated lines switching between chiselling activities (10-15cm), usually performed in autumn and spring. There is no specific technical recommendations.
Vines are disposed horizontally, supported by wire or cord sustained by wood or metal support. Planting compass varies with soil fertility, type of wine, as well as expected quantity and quality of production, and desired height of the edges. Typically, distance between vine plants within each row ranges from 1m to 2m, and the inter-rows distance from 2.5m to 3.0m, leading to densities of 1000-3000 vines/ha. Generally vineyards are installed on natural surface profile for slopes lower than 30%, and in terraces for hillslopes of 30-50%. Vine plantation is forbidden for slopes greater than 50%.
4.3 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs
Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
- per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:
1 ha per year
other/ national currency (specify):
Indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (if relevant): 1 USD =:
Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:
4.4 Establishment activities
|Activity||Type of measure||Timing|
|1.||Chiselling of alternated inter-row zone||Agronomic||Autumn/Spring|
|2.||Mechanical weeds control in alternated inter-row||Agronomic||Autumn/Spring|
|3.||Chemical control of weeds in plant zone||Agronomic||Autumn-Winter and Spring-Summer|
4.5 Costs and inputs needed for establishment
|Specify input||Unit||Quantity||Costs per Unit||Total costs per input||% of costs borne by land users|
|Equipment||Rotary brush mower||Equipment||1.0||1600.0||1600.0||100.0|
|Total costs for establishment of the Technology||5100.0|
If land user bore less than 100% of costs, indicate who covered the remaining costs:
Young farmers (<40 years old) may submit agricultural projects for partial government funding.
The costs provided do not include the tractor aquisition costs.
4.6 Maintenance/ recurrent activities
|Activity||Type of measure||Timing/ frequency|
|1.||Weeds control with herbicides (in vine rows)||Agronomic||Autumn-Winter and Spring-Summer|
|2.||Mechanical weeds control (inter-row)||Agronomic||Autumn/Spring|
4.7 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)
|Specify input||Unit||Quantity||Costs per Unit||Total costs per input||% of costs borne by land users|
|Labour||For chiselling activities||Person-days||1.0||30.0||30.0||100.0|
|Labour||For mechanical weed control||Person-days||1.0||30.0||30.0||100.0|
|Labour||For spraying of herbicides||Person-days||1.0||30.0||30.0||100.0|
|Equipment||Tractor with chisel||2.0||100.0||200.0||100.0|
|Equipment||Tractor with rotary brush mower||2.0||145.0||290.0||100.0|
|Equipment||Tractor with spraying system||1.0||150.0||150.0||100.0|
|Fertilizers and biocides||Herbicides||Litres||6.0||12.0||72.0||100.0|
|Total costs for maintenance of the Technology||802.0|
4.8 Most important factors affecting the costs
Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:
Machinery and labor
5. Natural and human environment
- < 250 mm
- 251-500 mm
- 501-750 mm
- 751-1,000 mm
- 1,001-1,500 mm
- 1,501-2,000 mm
- 2,001-3,000 mm
- 3,001-4,000 mm
- > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:
The climate is Mediterranean but with a significant influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The dry season extends from July to September and the rainiest period extends from November to February.
Indicate the name of the reference meteorological station considered:
10G/01UG from the Sistema Nacional de Informação de Recursos Hídricos
Csb according with Köppen climatic classification.
Slopes on average:
- flat (0-2%)
- gentle (3-5%)
- moderate (6-10%)
- rolling (11-15%)
- hilly (16-30%)
- steep (31-60%)
- very steep (>60%)
- mountain slopes
- hill slopes
- valley floors
- 0-100 m a.s.l.
- 101-500 m a.s.l.
- 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
- 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
- 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
- 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
- 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
- 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
- > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
- not relevant
Comments and further specifications on topography:
Óis do Bairro: 5%; São Lourenço: 10%; Estação Vitivinícola: 9%; Quinta do Valdoeiro: 10%; Pocariça: 14%. Altitude ranges from 25m to 55 m a.s.l.
Soil depth on average:
- very shallow (0-20 cm)
- shallow (21-50 cm)
- moderately deep (51-80 cm)
- deep (81-120 cm)
- very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
- medium (loamy, silty)
- fine/ heavy (clay)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
- medium (loamy, silty)
- fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
- medium (1-3%)
- low (<1%)
5.4 Water availability and quality
Ground water table:
Availability of surface water:
Water quality (untreated):
for agricultural use only (irrigation)
Is water salinity a problem?
Is flooding of the area occurring?
Comments and further specifications on biodiversity:
There is a lack of studies regarding biodiversity.
5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology
Sedentary or nomadic:
Market orientation of production system:
- mixed (subsistence/ commercial
- commercial/ market
- less than 10% of all income
- > 50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
Individuals or groups:
- individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
- manual work
- mechanized/ motorized
Age of land users:
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:
Some of the farmers belong to large wine companies, which export the wine to several countries
5.7 Average area of land owned or leased by land users applying the Technology
- < 0.5 ha
- 0.5-1 ha
- 1-2 ha
- 2-5 ha
- 5-15 ha
- 15-50 ha
- 50-100 ha
- 100-500 ha
- 500-1,000 ha
- 1,000-10,000 ha
- > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
The area of land varies a lot. Individual farmers can have vineyards from 2-15ha, whereas large wine companies own up to 400 ha of vineyards in Bairrada region.
5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights
- individual, not titled
Land use rights:
Water use rights:
- open access (unorganized)
The state also own some vineyards devoted to research.
5.9 Access to services and infrastructure
employment (e.g. off-farm):
roads and transport:
drinking water and sanitation:
6. Impacts and concluding statements
6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown
There are no measurements.
Water availability and quality
irrigation water quality
Although there are no measurements, it is expected less sediment and nutrient export (linked to decreasing runoff), thus less impacts on aquatic ecossystems.
Income and costs
Associated with decreasing chiseling activities
Vineyards are relevant for tourism, thus, their sustainability is relevant.
SLM/ land degradation knowledge
Farmers associations provide knowladge and trainning to farmers.
Water cycle/ runoff
Not measured, but available water in the water cycle is expected.
There is no data, but decreasing runoff will contribute for lower sediment and nutrient exports, thus, improving water quality.
There are no measurements, but field studies performed elsewhere report increasing soil moisture due to vegetation cover.
Maintenance of vegetation cover in half of the vineyard inter-rows. However, vegetation cover is limited during dry periods.
Based on bibliography.
Although there are no measurements, farmers report that ploughing activities are relevant to reduce soil compaction.
soil organic matter/ below ground C
According with literature review, minimum tillage decrease the mineralization of organic matter.
Biodiversity: vegetation, animals
Not measured, but expected given the partia maintenance of vegetation cover.
6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown
Decreasing runoff will contribute for decreasing downstream flooding
Less runoff and erosion will decrease downstream siltation.
groundwater/ river pollution
Less runoff will provide lower sediment and nutrient exports to rivers.
impact of greenhouse gases
Lower tractor activities contribute for less greenhouse gases emission.
Comments regarding impact assessment:
The impacts have not been measured. The response is based on literature review and field observations.
6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)
The technology does not have an impact on climate related issues.
6.4 Cost-benefit analysis
How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
6.5 Adoption of the Technology
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many have did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?
6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology
|Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view|
|Less herbicides and ploughing decreases maintenance costs.|
|It allows to reduce herbicide application to control weeds, thus favouring biodiversity.|
|Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view|
|Minimum tillage is best suited for heavy, compacted and/or poorly drained soils, typical of vineyards.|
|It reduces land degradation, by improving soil structure and vegetation cover, important to reduce soil erosion.|
|Improving soil cover will improve soil moisture and aeration conditions, relevant for crop development and soil biodiversity.|
6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them
|Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view||How can they be overcome?|
|Soil compaction due to lower ploughing||Improve soil structure|
|Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view||How can they be overcome?|
|Difficulty to maintain inter-row vegetation cover during the dry season||Replace vegetation cover by other materials (e.g. mulching)|
7. References and links
7.1 Methods/ sources of information
- field visits, field surveys
More than 10 field visits were performed over a three month period.
- interviews with land users
- interviews with SLM specialists/ experts
- compilation from reports and other existing documentation
7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online
Biddoccu, M., Ferraris, S., Pitacco, A., Cavallo, E. (2017). Temporal variability of soil management effects on soil hydrological properties, runoff and erosion at the field scale in a hillslope vineyard, North-West Italy. Soil & Tillage Research 165, 46–58.
Byrne, S., Guire, L.M. (2005) Vineyard Floor Management. Final report to Grape and Wine Research & Development Corporation (RT 04/03-1)
Cruz, A., Botelho, M., Silvestre, J., Castro R. (2012) Soil management: Introduction of tillage in a vineyard with a long-term natural cover. Journal of Viticulture and Enology 27(1), 27-38.
Napoli, M., Marta, A.D., Zanchi, C.A., Orlandini, S. (2017). Assessment of soil and nutrient losses by runoff under different soil management practices in an Italian hilly vineyard. Soil & Tillage Research 168, 71–80.
Puig-Montserrat, X., Stefanescu, C., Torre, I., Palet, J., Fàbregas, E., Dantart, J., Arrizabalaga, A., Flaquer, C. (2017). Effects of organic and conventional crop management on vineyard biodiversity. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 243, 19–26.
Raclot, D., Bissonnais, Y.L., Louchart, X., Andrieux, P., Moussa, R., Volts, M. (2009). Soil tillage and scale effects on erosion from fields to catchment in a Mediterranean vineyard area. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 134, 201–210.