A focus on the Piolenc experimental vineyard
Adapting to climate change is a central challenge for all winegrowers. To get to grips with the subject, the Vaucluse Chamber of Agriculture is testing several new techniques on the Piolenc experimental estate to delay grape maturity and therefore the harvesting period.
About the Piolenc experimental estate
The Piolenc experimental estate was created on the initiative of the Vaucluse Chamber of Agriculture in the southeast of France. Its objective is to provide concrete answers to the major challenges of agroecology, namely biodiversity, resilience, productivity and soil preservation.
The Piolenc estate is a true breeding ground for experiments on adapting to climate change and on the agroecological transition. Heatwaves, hailstorms, frost and flooding are all climate hazards which can have disastrous effects on crops. Through the agronomic research conducted on the Piolenc estate, the chamber of agriculture wishes to find long-lasting solutions to preserve grape quality and yield.
Did you know?
Over the years, climate change has had a major impact on harvesting periods. In France, harvesting dates advanced by 18 days between 1974 and 2019.
Placing solar panels over the vines
In partnership with INRAe and IFV and as part of the programme Sun’Agri 3, photovoltaic panels have been placed over a vine. Dynamic agrivoltaism aims to combine energy production with grape production. The panels power the nets which provide shade for the vines at specific periods. Controlling them is therefore the critical aspect of the project.
Installing shading nets to delay maturity
At the beginning of 2019, a test was launched for a period of three years to assess the efficacy of shading nets, fitted with an anti-hail feature. These nets were selected to create a cooler microclimate around the grape bunches and to delay the harvesting date for as long as possible. In the first year, following a severe heatwave, the goal of delaying harvesting by 10 days was met.
Misting vines to counteract the heat
Also connected with the heatwave, the chamber of agriculture also tested vine misting. For the time being, it does not appear to be more effective than a similar volume of water supplied by drip irrigation.
Testing the technique of forcing
This brand new technique is already in test phase in hot countries, and helps to delay grape maturity by up to two months. The idea is to force regrowth on the vine by cutting back growing shoots.
The agroecological vine on the Piolenc estate
The Vaucluse chamber of agriculture has been taking part in the DIVERVITI project since 2019, which advocates diversifying crops to reduce inputs. This led to the conception of an agroecological vine on the Piolenc estate, associating grapevines with thyme on a 0.6 hectare plot.
The two main principles of agroecology were thus respected: a diversified system and maximum soil coverage. The aim on this plot is to reduce the use of crop protection products:
- Reduction of weedkillers,
- A 50% drop in the use of fungicide IFT,
- Lower use of insecticides.
A range of technical levers are thus used to meet the set objectives: favouring treatment with low quantities of inputs, or installing nesting boxes to attract birds and bats as control agents for grapevine worms.
The effects of climate change are forcing winegrowers to seek new adaptation techniques to preserve their crops, especially during extremely hot spells; In parallel, cutting the use of crop protection products is also an ecological priority. Many initiatives like the Piolenc estate are emerging all over the country to test innovative methods in real-life conditions.