PromESSinG : Promoting ecosystem services in central european vineyards
We investigated the relationships between biodiversity of soil organisms and ecosystem functions and services in vineyards and how these are affected by management, in particular pesticide use.
Background (completed research project)
As perennial cropping systems vineyards have a high potential to provide habitat for biodiversity if sustainably managed. However vineyards are usually intensively managed with a high input of pesticides such as herbicide and fungicides.
The aim of the study was to evaluate current viticultural management methods by identifying non-target effects of pesticides on biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services at a national (Swiss) and European scale.
Our results show that pesticide application in vineyards has non-target effects on soil microbial communities and selectively on their associated functions, however, the effects were relatively small. Herbicide application affected microbial community composition and particularly decreased soil fungal and protist diversity across countries. We further show that in Switzerland, soil copper contamination changed microbial community composition. Soil respiration and microbial biomass were clearly negatively affected by herbicide application. As soil respiration has been linked to nutrient and organic matter perturbation this could potentially influence plant nutrition and thus grape quality. Grape quality, in particular nitrogen content, was positively affected by vegetation removal across European countries.
Implication for research
Long term pesticide application in vineyards affects biodiversity and changed microbial communities which affected some soil functions. Soil copper contamination from fungicides had a larger effect on biodiversity than organic herbicides, however, the latter increased grape quality.
Implication for practice
Some grape quality parameters are improved by herbicide application, which illustrates the conflicts of interests between winemakers and soil protoection and stresses the necessity to carefully develop local strategies to reach common interests.
Management Concept for Central European Vineyard Ecosystems: Promoting Ecosystem Services in Grapes (PromESSinG)