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How wineries can help reduce global warming

ABC radio rang me last week regarding a new study about planting different varieties as global warming advances. a 3 year study found that Margaret River can expect its growing season rainfall to drop from 206mm to 164mm by 2100, and the Hunter destined to become three degrees warmer by 2100[1]

 

My answer was that if temperatures raise just 1.5 degrees, then planting different varieties is the least of our worries.

 

The Great Barrier Reef will disappear. Greenhouse gas is twice as high as it has been for the last 800,000 years,[2] and some climate change experts are saying we have less than 12 years to save the planet. [3] [4][5]

So what can wineries do to help save the planet? Well, this is what we do at Koonara to help:

Planting the 5 different types of grasses – grasses, cereals, brassicas, chenopods and legumes. Go mostly legumes, as they put back nitrogen. A seed mix of the perfect ratio can be bought HERE, formulated based on the principles outlined by Graeme Sait from Nutri-tech solutions. This helps the microbiome in the soil explode with life, and these guys hold carbon for 30 years[6]. One grass worth planting is Wallaby grass – Greening Australia pay up to $200 a kg, or $200,000 a tonne for this seed, as it small and has a short shelf-life. Good grasses smother weeds, saving on spraying herbicide.

One note; Bayer, the maker of Round-up (active ingredient Glyphosate) had to pay out $10 Billion recently due to the dangers this chemical causes to our environment[7], so finding alternatives to your weed problem is best, especially as this chemical will kill 80% of your microbiome in the soil (fun fact: Glyphosate is patented as an antibiotic, not a weed killer, which is why it’s so good at killing the good bugs). At Koonara we like most weeds, especially if they flower. Flowers bring in the hunter bugs, so we don’t need to spray even organic pesticides). Flowers under the dripper use a little bit of water in summer, but they stay flowering for a food source for good bugs, keeping the ecosystem in balance.

Bottom line: reducing Glyphosate increases carbon in the soil, because the microbiome in the soil hold it so well. Kill them, you stop the plant getting fed, and you lose carbon.

All these grasses and flowers feed 40% of the carbon they capture to feed the microbiome in the soil, in exchange for the microbiome breaking down minerals for the plant to use.

If I place paper over one acre, this would equal a tonne, so putting back 1 tonne of carbon is do-able. The best part is 3% of organic material to the soil will hold the equivalent of an Olympic sized swimming pool per Hectare, so will save on watering. Plus grass reduces evaporation, and keeps the vineyard cool.

Bottom line: If all 420,000 acres of Vineyard in Australia did this, it would take the equivalent of 264,600 cars of the road every year*

 

 

*Carbon = 37% of CO2

This takes out 1.1m tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere(1 kg of carbon + 2.67 kg of oxygen give 3.67 kg of carbon dioxide and heat[8])

Every Car uses 4.6 tonnes on average**

420,000 = 264,600 Cars

 

**A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This assumes the average gasoline vehicle on the road today has a fuel economy of about 22.0 miles per gallon and drives around 11,500 miles per year[9]

 

References:

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-13/new-climate-atlas-research-shows-climate-change-in-wine-regions/12340430#:~:text=Commissioned%20by%20Wine%20Australia%2C%20the,the%20country’s%2071%20wine%20regions.

[2] https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

[3] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48964736

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report

[5] https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27082019/12-years-climate-change-explained-ipcc-science-solutions

[6] https://blog.nutri-tech.com.au/cover-crop-secrets-1/

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/24/business/roundup-settlement-lawsuits.html

[8] https://www.energuide.be/en/questions-answers/what-exactly-is-a-tonne-of-co2/2141/

[9] https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle#:~:text=A%20typical%20passenger%20vehicle%20emits%20about%204.6%20metric%20tons%20of,around%2011%2C500%20miles%20per%20year.