September 19, 2017

Vineyard Soil Health Research Links

The focus in recent years on soil health has resulted in more research on the microbiome of vineyards and the importance of maintaining the diversity, vigor, and nutrients that soil micro-organisms require to benefit vine growth and berry quality.

Using soil health conditioning and nutrition technologies can assure that vines are growing in balanced, complex microbial soils for more robust root growth, more effective leaf area development, and stronger, more efficient vascular systems. These are the foundations for more effective nutrient uptake, photosynthesis, and translocation of minerals, water, and other building blocks of healthy vines. Vines growing in healthy soils are better able to tolerate the inevitable stresses of the growing season to produce more abundant, higher-quality harvests.

Many university and USDA papers on soil health are geared to row crop farms, not vineyards. But there are some organizations and papers that do pertain to vineyards, and others contain informative background information on basic soil microbiology. Following are some titles and links to articles and sites that may be helpful.

One of the leading researchers in vineyard soil health is Belinda Rawnsley, a researcher at the South Australia Research and Development Institute, whose award-winning project provides information on soil biology tests that are cost effective. Her presentations include vineyard practices that impact soil organisms.

Soil Biology, Healthy Soils and Carbon Farming Workshop June 2012, Belinda Rawnsley, South Australian Research and Development Institute. (

Assessment of Soil Health in Vineyards, Belinda Rawnsley, International Society for Horticultural Science. (

How to Assess Vineyard Soil Health, 2010, Barossa Viticulture Technical Group. (

Vineyard’s soil microbes shape grapes’ microbial community, March 24, 2015, American Society of Microbiology. (

Ensuring Soil Quality, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance,


Vineyard Floor Management, Mark L. Chien, Wine Grape Educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lancaster. (

Improving water use efficiency starts with caring for the soil, Sept. 22, 2015, Ernie Flint, Mississippi Extension Agronomist, Delta Farm Press. (

Groups Launch Soil Institute. Foundations Seek to Create Long-Term Research, Analysis on Soil Health, Dec. 3, 2015, DTN/Progressive Farmer. (;jsessionid=E6969CDC7E0A3FA2A428B769C0A653F2.agfreejvm1?symbolicName=/free/news/template2&forceNavUpdate=false&topic=DTN/Ag/Soil&vendorReference=3c601af6-3b0a-45dc-9f8f-76c7e357940d__1448987375007)

The Importance of Soil Organic Matter in Cropping Systems of the Northern Great Plains,

Laura F. Overstreet, North Dakota State University, Jodi DeJong-Huges, University of Minnesota. (

Evaluation of Soil Health Tests, Deborah Allan, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota. (

Build Soil Profits, Soil Health Checkup. Biological life: Have you created a hospitable habitat? September 2015, Liz Morrison, Corn and Soybean Digest. (