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ADUC – Health – News – NEW ZEALAND

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According to research conducted in New Zealand, wine produced from grapes co-planted with hemp showed higher quality and the presence of hemp plants improved the vineyard soil.

The three-year study, led by vintner Kirsty Harkness and Mark Krasnow, a viticulture researcher, demonstrated that hemp is a viable cover crop for New Zealand vineyards because it provides a means of alleviating soil compaction and adds organic matter to the soil.

Hemp also offers a potential second income stream for growers serving the wine industry and can be harvested before grapes, the research paper notes.

Other co-cultures have failed
Conducted in the Marlborough wine region, the study showed that hemp took root without the need for irrigation in Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, where other cover crops failed to grow. The Marlborough wine region is located in the north of New Zealand’s South Island.

“This allowed hemp to continue growing and sequestering carbon longer into the season,” the study suggests, adding that hemp plants were able to grow in tractor wheel tracks, developing deep roots that reduce the Soil compaction – a big problem in vineyards. Compaction can be harmful because it risks “choking” the roots of the vines.

“The fact that hemp has not competed with the vine, but has had a positive influence on the soils and the wines is very exciting,” Harkness told New Zealand Wine Grower, the magazine of the New Zealand Winegrowers’ Association, noting that juice from grapes adjacent to hemp had a higher population of native yeasts and produced a higher quality wine than juice from vines grown separately from hemp plantations.

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Long-term benefits
The research also showed that vineyard soils were richer in organic matter and total carbon, beneficial to long-term soil health and fertility. “The differences were especially pronounced at 40-80 cm, suggesting that hemp captures more carbon deeper in the soil profile than other cover crops,” according to the study.

Krasnow said hemp mixed with other cover crops — such as clover for nitrogen and buckwheat for beneficial insects — could help vineyards produce better grapes with fewer inputs while capturing carbon. A mixed turf cover that includes hemp could improve grape quality, save water, be bee-friendly, use less diesel fuel and ultimately reduce overall costs, Krasnow said.

(Hemp Today del 27/10/2023)

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