Microorganisms, worms, insects and birds, but also hedgehogs, lizards and hares live in a healthy and ecologically farmed vineyard. They aren’t troublemakers, but welcome guests who help to build up a stable ecosystem and to reduce pests.
Beneficial insects in the vineyard
“Eating and being eaten”, this motto also applies to an ecologically farmed vineyard. Beneficial insects in the soil and foliage are not only an expression of natural equilibrium, but also protect the vine from harmful organisms.
Where would we be without the earthworms? “The earth would be a desert and neither animal nor plant life could exist”, an English garden encyclopedia from the 19th century already knew. Earthworms belong to the most important so-called decomposers in the soil: living organisms that feed on dead organic substances and degrade it. Night after night earthworms eat their way through the soil, dead remains of roots and plants and dead insects. Their excrements can store twice as much water as usual soil and in combination with bacteria and plants that complete the decomposition process, important minerals are formed that the vines use as food. On their food tours through the soil layers the earthworms also dig the earth and loosen it up. In the vertical passages they leave behind, plant roots can grow faster into the depths.
Above ground, meanwhile, other residents care about the functioning and balance of the ecosystem. The plants are the link between the top and the bottom and associate the ecosystem, because soil life cannot exist on its own. The green and flourishing diversity is habitat for other hard-working and useful helpers such as spiders, predatory mites and wasps. They support the pollination and protect the vines from pests. But this matter is about the entire system too: butterflies, beetles, arthropods and wild bees are also welcome guests in ecologically managed vineyards: The bumblebees that love borage, as well as the swallowtails whose caterpillars like to nibble on wild fennel. They provide sheltered nesting and breeding grounds for insects and birds and shelter for lizards, hedgehogs and hares. Their visits to the vineyard are a visible sign that the overall system remains in balance.
In the middle of the vineyard “insect hotels” offer home to native animals and insects, which have become rare here. Giving them back their habitat and promoting the diversity of nature is part of active environmental protection in organic viticulture.