The rewards of running a sustainable vineyard are there for those seeking improved soils, biodiversity, naturally healthy vines, reduced chemical sprays and fertiliser inputs however it brings extra challenges for which special equipment is needed. 

Most of the kit is available for hire or purchase, says David Sayell of Vitifruit Equipment. Sustainability starts with soil care so take care not to damage it with heavy tractors having narrow tyres pressing down and compacting the soil, if possible plant wider alleys and fit wide low ground pressure tyres. 

Dealing with the vast amount of vegetation in the rows requires well built flail or rotary mowers but the biggest challenge is dealing with the vegetation under the vines so use something like the Boisselet fitted with either the Filmatic strimmer head or a soil cultivation head. 

Establishing cover crops or wild flower meadows also requires special tools with much depending on soil type and surface conditions where stones or crop residues may block some drill types so a selection of drills and cultivator drills has to be made. A light tickle of the top to make a fine seedbed and mix in surface trash can be done with a rotavator drill combination or if conditions permit use a direct drill fitted with discs or tines.

Vitifruit Equipment was at Itasca Wines to help deal with the almighty amount of vegetation growing under the vines, mainly sow thistles. Simon Porter of Itasca Wines is out there using an under vine strimmer right now!