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2018 Wine Grape Soil Fertility Seminar, with Neal Kinsey
February 12-15, 2018
Napa, California

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In this three-day seminar plus 1-day tour, agronomist and renowned soil fertility consultant Neal Kinsey taught the foundation concepts of the Albrecht soil fertility balancing system as applied to leading vineyards worldwide.

 

Neal Kinsey makes soil fertility recommendations for hundreds of vineyards on multiple continents. Drawing examples from real-world vineyard soil tests, learn how balanced soil fertility outperforms mere fertility adequacy programs in terms of yield, quality and crop resiliency.

 

Soil fertility management holds the keys to unlocking your crop's true potential, whether you grow wine grapes or another crop. The Albrecht model of the balancing of soil fertility elements – major and minor – as practiced by Neal Kinsey is based on specific sampling and testing methods as well as recognizing the need for balanced and complete nutrition. Obtaining adequate minimum levels of soil fertility elements without regard to the offsetting affect of excesses or imbalances is one of modern agriculture’s greatest faults. Starting with the soil colloid, the “bank” of most fertility elements, Kinsey will explain how elements and act and interact on wine grapes in terms of productivity, quality, disease resistance and resilience.

 

 


 

Soil Fertility Balancing and Wine Grapes

 

 

The ideal soil is considered to be composed of 45% minerals, 5% humus, and 50% pore space. Ideally, 50% water and 50% air occupy that pore space. In addition, the pore space (containing the proper amount of air and water), also must provide the correct environment for all types of living organisms necessary to help supply the needs of growing roots in that soil and for vines growing above ground.

 

All too often talk of wine grapes “struggling” to produce fine wines is discussed. Usually this is based on unique climates, terrains and history rather than looking at the soils involved. The Albrecht system of soil fertility balancing has proven itself on vineyards of superb quality around the world. Some of the finest wine grapes known in the world grow in soils which test in the ideal range within this system.

 

Essentially, the wine grape-balanced soil fertility model utilizes soil chemistry to affect soil physics, which determines the environment for the biology of the soil. The soil audit, using a specifically developed set of soil testing procedures adapted for identifying the fertility characteristics of top-producing soils for growing wine grapes to determine and correct the soil’s mineral content, provides the means to measure and supply the needed chemistry for each particular soil. It is the chemical makeup of each soil that determines its physical structure. When a soil has the correct chemistry, the correct physics of that soil will also be achieved. When the chemistry and physics are right, the environment for the biology will also be most ideal unless something is done to seriously compact that soil. That is why so much emphasis is placed on achieving the precise level for each nutrient, based on the specific requirements of every different soil, and avoiding the practices that can lead to soil compaction. Soil nutrients are supplied based on any deficiencies or excesses. When there is too much of one element in the soil, there will be too little of something else. Supplying missing nutrients is the first key to controlling any excesses in that soil.

 

That is why this program emphasizes feeding the soil and letting the soil feed the plants. When the soil contains the correct chemistry, grapevines will be able to acquire the nutrients that soil has the ability to supply, in the proper amounts. Using the correct type of fertilizer is most important, and must be accurately ascertained by testing procedures. The approach is to use fertilizers that increase nutrient levels in the soil. Too many fertilizers are plant feeders, only remaining in a form useable by plants for a short period. It is far better to use fertilizers that feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant naturally. Such fertilizers are applied in order to build nutrient levels, thus keeping in an available form what is not used up by the current crop, for use by the next crop. The Albrecht-Kinsey system of soil fertility balancing can be implemented using conventional, sustainable and organic inputs.

 

Fundamentally, growers cannot manage what cannot be measured. Using this system of testing soil, and treating to balance the soil nutrients, even maintaining necessary trace element levels in the soil takes on greater significance. These primary and secondary elements can only work as they should, after being correctly selected and adequately supplied. 

 

This is the basis for what has come to be called a “balanced soil fertility” program. This system was developed for balanced nutrient feeding, to the point of measuring nutrient increases pound-for-pound, as they are added and become available for plant use.

 

This program of balancing soil nutrients to encourage the proper uptake of needed elements is presently being used successfully on all types of grapes. The program has become well accepted and is now being implemented and utilized by a larger group of very successful vineyards from coast to coast in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and many other countries.

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