Since 2017 we have moved towards regenerative agriculture to manage our property at Musk, including of course our estate vineyard. It is a way of farming using a set of principles that enriches soils and increases their carbon storage capacity dramatically, increases biodiversity, improves the water cycle and enhances the overall ecosystem of the farm. There are numerous benefits, including looking after our soils for future generations, producing a healthier product and creating a safer and healthier work environment. Also there is the fact that if all agricultural ventures farmed this way, climate change would be reversed. There have been other encouraging benefits along the way also, such as yield and quality increasing, amazingly this has been coupled with our production costs decreasing.
We are in the age of the Anthropocene and if things don’t shift dramatically the lives of our children are going to be significantly impacted by changes in our climate. We decided to do everything we could now, rather than wait for others.
We also feel that we have a responsibility to produce a healthy and safe product for those who consume it. We simply do not feel convinced that a lot of ‘conventional’ farming practices and products are safe. Even though they may be approved by our governing bodies.
While this list is by no means comprehensive, some key things we have implemented are outlined below.
We have moved entirely to natural fertilisers including compost, animal manure, cover crops and rock dust. We make the compost on site from all of our vintage and kitchen waste. The rock dust is a way of remineralising our soils that has dramatic impacts in terms of quality and quantity by reintroducing minerals to the soil that have been depleted much faster than our earth planned due to modern industrialised farming.
Bio-dynamic and organic practices
We are progressively moving towards this way of farming as our research has shown that these methods produce food and wine that is of a higher quality and is better for us. In particularly we have ceased the use of Glyphosate entirely, will have phased out the use of all but organic fungicides by 2021 and have begun applying biodynamic preparations.
Increasing farm biodiversity
We use sheep in early Spring to manage grass and assist in fertilisation prior to budburst. Over the next 12 months we will be introducing a herd of Indian Runner Ducks to manage snails (as well as some chooks to provide eggs and prepare smaller areas of the property for vegetable gardens, as well as take care of some of the kitchen waste) and goats to assist manage blackberry issues in a couple of areas. We are also planting two insectariums to encourage insects and bees to the property.
We installed solar power in 2018 and so far have drawn very little power from the grid. We are currently researching batteries to maximise our ability to minimise consumption of power made through the use of fossil fuels. Our only method of drawing water from our bore is via the sun or wind.
Watch this space for further initiatives...