As autumn approaches, those looking to improve the management of the vineyard floor will begin to turn their minds to cultivation and drilling cover crops in the alleyways.

At Vitifruit Equipment, David Sayell has invested in heavy duty hire equipment to provide vineyards that cannot justify buying machinery outright with the necessary tools to get the job done properly.

To loosen and break up the soil in the tractor compaction zone or at the root of the vines, the Sauerburger twin-leg subsoiler has special shaped legs for maximum lift, can work down to 50cm and is equipped with two cutting disks to reduce the disturbance of existing grass alleyways. He has also added a cage roller to help push down any stones and flatten out the ground.

“The subsoiler is ideal for any tractor over 60 horsepower and, like all our hire equipment, we will make sure that the operator is given a full demonstration after we deliver the machine,” said David. “Considering this year’s conditions, those with vineyards on clay may need to wait until the soil moisture has fully returned before getting stuck in with cultivation work.”

When looking to plant grass or clover mixes, the soil should be broken-down into as fine a consistency as possible to ensure that the tiny seeds do not get lost between lumps of soil when drilled.

“Using the 1.6-metre Sauerburger rotavator you can produce a good till in one pass. We purposely sought out a heavy duty rotavator because our customers have a range of different soil types. Weighing in at 530kg the Sauerburger is twice as heavy as most other rotavators on the market and can even cope with dense flint areas.”

The rotavator also benefits from a crumble roller fitted to the back to help to level and firm the seed bed down which, in a dry year, could be the difference between good or poor germination, as this will help to retain soil moisture.

Those looking for an alternative to the rotavator can opt for the 1.7-metre power harrow which will also effectively break up compacted soil to create a light top layer.

Once the seed bed has been sufficiently prepared, Vitifruit can supply its adjustable 1.4-metre Lehner vineyard drill which has a 70-litre hopper and a very precise metreing and seed distribution system.

“We added a roller to the back of the drill to make sure that the soil and seeds are immediately pressed together,” said David Sayell. “It is crucial that the soil is firmed against the seeds because if you don’t get the optimum contact you won’t have the moisture and in turn you will not get the best germination results.”

For those just looking to cultivate, Vitifruit also hires out a multifunctioning Boisselet modular system that can be fitted with drag tine cultivators and legs to work the centre alleyway, with shallow cultivation helping to control weed growth.

“We can provide a rough guide of how long the vineyard will need the machine for and are very transparent with our costs,” said David. “The hire fee is based on delivery, setting everything up and showing the operator how to use the machine so it does them proud and then a day’s hire rate after that.”