5 Reasons Wineries Need to Be Proactive to Prevent Erosion

5 Reasons Wineries Need to Be Proactive to Prevent Erosion

In Agriculture & Winery, Dust Control, Soil Stabilization by Frank Elswick

Preventative erosion control not only saves valuable time and money, but also has a significant impact on the environmental and the quality of your crops.

There are few things greater in this world than a good glass of wine at the end of the day, a ritual that’s growing in popularity across the United States. In 2014, Americans consumed 895 million gallons of wine, according to Wine Institute, and 62% of American adults purchased a glass or bottle of the beverage in 2012. As a result, there are now more than 7,700 wineries in the U.S., as The Week explains, all of which face the looming challenge of addressing erosion control every year.

Here are the top five reasons all 7,700 of them should be proactive in their fight against erosion.

1. It’s the Law

Yes, in many states and counties, erosion prevention is indeed required by law. Napa and Sonoma counties, two of the most prolific winery markets in the United States, introduced erosion control requirements in 2008 and 2009, respectively, according to Wines and Vines. The Sonoma ordinance was created with input from both environmentalists and grape growers, and includes regulations concerning slope, drainage improvements, and mitigating steps, to name a few. Failure to meet the standards can result in steep fines, as Hobbs Winery learned the hard way in 2014, as the Sonoma West Times and News.

2. Improved Crops

Beyond avoiding expensive penalties, effective erosion control actually has a marked positive impact on the quality of the grapes. Planting cover crops helps improve rainfall penetration while protecting the soil from runoff and wind, which can otherwise dislodge up to 2.5 inches of soil in a single season. Utilizing a multi-dimensional strategy for erosion control can reduce soil loss per acre by an incredible 15.25 tons every year.

Cover crops also increase organic matter and nutrient availability, in addition to enhancing the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi that inhabit the roots, making the soil rich for robust vines and grapes. Moreover, they protect the vines from pests and therefore limit the need for chemical sprays, giving you the healthiest, most natural product possible.

3. Saved Time

Proactively implementing erosion control systems will save you time in the long run. Wineries can avoid time-consuming fixes to address problems resulting from the rainy season, such as regrading and refilling roads, by implementing best management practices (BMPs). Dynamic systems involving cover crops, sandbagging, and filter strips conserve soil so that displaced dirt no longer has to be redistributed.

4. Reduced Costs

Not only do erosion and subsequent cleanup efforts waste valuable time — they unsurprisingly take a big chunk out of your checkbook as well. Simply keeping up its roads every year cost one vinyard an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 annually for equipment and labor, according to Practical Winery. Implementing BMPs, on the other hand, set the same vineyard back only $1,500 for a solution that lasted four years, with minimal maintenance requirements. The practices save further costs by reducing the need to water the road and use expensive pesticides and chemical sprays.

5. Environmental Protection

The same benefits of proactive erosion control that save wineries operational costs also have positive environmental impacts. Erosion creates harmful agricultural runoff rife with pesticides and fertilizers that can taint water supplies, and it also destabilizes surrounding ecosystems. BMPs help bolster and preserve those valuable microclimates that ultimately produce higher quality crops using less water and fewer chemicals.

In California, according to the New York Times, where all industries continue to confront the effects of the recent drought, conserving as much clean water as possible has never been more important, and limiting the spread of harmful particulate matter all over the world is essential to the health of local communities and the environment.

Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc is the perfect one-stop-shop for all 7,700 wineries’ erosion prevention needs. Specifically, Midwest’s Soil-Sement® eliminates 98% of slope erosion problems commonly faced by wineries, while controlling harmful particulate emissions and limiting stormwater runoff.

So go ahead — pour yourself another glass. With the help of Midwest, your winery’s erosion problems will be a thing of the past.

(Main image credit: skeeze/Pixabay)

Frank is the sales unit manager of Midwest's road construction and natural paving markets.