As climate change delivers an increasing number of extreme weather events, it is more important than ever to consider how the resilience of a vineyard can be improved. Made from upcycled chicken manure, the new fertilisers from LOHAS help to add organic matter to the soil and generally improve soil health by increasing the levels of nutrition, guarding against erosion and upping capacity for the retention of moisture. These improvements can give the edge when it comes to vines being able to survive intense periods of drought or flood.

Research and development

“We have been running two live InnovateUK projects over the summer,” said co-director Lian. “These feasibility studies are testing our enzyme-based technology, creating sustainable fertiliser from the bio-based materials, i.e. poultry manure. The aim was to reduce the environmental impact of poultry manure by turning it into an eco-fertiliser.

“We have also done some glasshouse pot trials with Harper Adams University in Shropshire. Working with broccoli and tomato plants, this study tested our soil nutrient in different ratios with a traditional chemical fertiliser against a control to assess the impact on plant vigour.”

It’s too soon for the findings of the studies to have been analysed and published, but the soil nutrients LOHAS has developed are already proving popular with growers of a diverse array of produce, including wine grapes.

“At the moment, we have two types of nutrient pellets available,” said Lian. “One is a general product which is perfect for supporting foliar growth in the spring. The other is a high P & K [phosphorus and potassium] product that gives vines the boost they need when ripening is imminent in the autumn, but limits the overgrowth of the leaves at this stage.”

Next steps

LOHAS is moving forward within DEFRA’s Farming Innovation Programme, which supports small-scale research and development projects like theirs. They are looking to engage with vineyards to collaborate and carry out field trials with their novel soil nutrient to confirm its benefits for vineyard soil health and measure that impact.

By applying enzyme technology to chicken manure, LOHAS are able to stabilise the carbon, ammonium and nitrogen within it. As a consequence of this fermentation process, the waste is upcycled into a safe and stable soil nutrient. It is high in organic matter and stabilised carbon, with a balanced NPK nutrient profile and other micro nutrients. The fully-fermented ECO-Fertiliser also contains valuable amino acids and humus. Amino acids play a pivotal role in promoting plant growth by aiding nutrient absorption and utilisation. Humus improves soil structure, water retention and nutrient availability.

The application of the bio-technology innovation in manufacturing the fully-fermented soil nutrient for viticultural sector is operating at scales. This brings abundant and cost-effective soil nutrition. The innovative soil nutrient fosters soil organic matter, carbon levels, microbial activities, and overall soil health and resilience. It’s worth noting that the full fermentation of this soil nutrient also means that it is more pleasant to work with and stops it from acting as a magnet to flies, which are a big turn-off when you have a high-end wine tourism offer to consider.

LOHAS soil nutrient can be applied in spring during vineyard establishment or after bud burst. To optimise the post-harvest root activity, LOHAS high P&K nutrient can be applied in Oct or Nov,  allowing vines to replenish lost nutrients and build nutrient reserves for future needs. This offer aligns with sustainable management practices and holds promise for a more eco-conscious viticulture industry.

LOHAS are keen to involve UK vineyards in their InnovateUK projects. The team is looking for collaborative partners to participate in field trials of their soil nutrients during winter 2023. Interested parties are warmly invited to get in touch.
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