- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
This blog is being launched with voodoo poo poo.
On April 16, North Coast and Mountain Region director Kim Rodrigues (K-Rod) took Tom Tomich, new director of the UCD Agricultural Sustainability Institute and SAREP, on a tour of sustainability projects in Mendocino and Lake counties. I tagged along for the first day. Included are some photos taken directly from the camera and posted. If Jack Clark and Mike Poe are viewing, gentlemen, start your cringing.
We started at Hopland Research & Extension Center, where Glenn McGourty, Mendocino viticulture advisor, and John Harper, Mendocino livestock advisor, are training sheep to eat vineyard weeds and cover crops, not the grapevines.
Jeannette is writing a news release about their study feeding sheep grape leaves and buds, then lithium chloride to make the sheep sick. This deters them from eating the vines, much like food poisoning can deter people from eating, say, spinach. We’ll see if PETA reads ANR news. This is part of a biodynamic farming system, which involves animals in crop production.
Biodynamic farming takes organic farming a step further. Bonterra wine is not organic (because they choose to use sulfites to preserve the wine), but their grapes are biodynamically grown. I understood biodynamics to mean the farm was self-contained, but apparently it has a spiritual side as well, which is why the Bonterra production manager said some people call it voodoo poo poo. The production manager explained that they pack fresh cow manure into bull horns, which are buried in the vineyard until the manure composts. Then the compost, or voodoo poo poo, is scraped out of the horns and spread around the vineyard.
Glenn McGourty, who is neither a proponent nor opponent of biodynamics, found that the fruit yield to vine ratio was higher -- 6-1 for the biodynamic vineyard than the 5-1 of the regular organic vineyard.
We walked through a vineyard minutes after a sulfur sprayer left. Being allergic to sulfur, I half-expected to depart the premises in an ambulance, but no drama ensued.
The vineyard inputs are all natural, right down to the tule reeds used to tie the canes to the trellising wires.