Sustainability has become an essential issue to which the world is paying attention – not enough yet. A chorus of voices raised in defense of a planet whose health is threatened. Life Green Grapes is a voice in the choir.

The Life Green Grapes project – New approaches for protection in a modern sustainable viticulture: from nursery to harvesting – is a demonstration project funded by the EU Life 2014-2020 program, whose activities started in July 2017 and will end in 2021. Castello di Gabbiano joined the project.

The challenge of the project was to put the « vineyard system » in the best conditions to allow the vines to respond to biotic stress with less use of pesticides, while maintaining a high quality of the final product and preserving (or possibly increasing) soil biodiversity . All this through the definition of defense protocols based on a combination of interventions.

The project compared different crop protection protocols along the grapevine production chain.

Reduction in plant protection products can be obtained by integrating cover crop management (cultural practices), defence inducers, and good timing for the application of treatments by following a Decision Support System.

Five different approaches were compared: 1) Integrated strategy; 2) Integrated strategy with reduction of phytosanitary treatments and use of defence inducers; 3) Organic strategy; 4) Organic strategy with 50% reduction of copper applications; 5) Organic strategy with 100% reduction of copper applications.

In the Green Grapes strategies, vineyard management was integrated with the use of products with resistance induction action, attributable to three categories based on their origin: plant extracts, yeast derivatives, seaweed extracts, and commercially available.

The tests were conducted in pilot vineyards at Castello di Gabbiano. Sangiovese grapes, brought up in the counter on three different plots.

In conclusion, the experimentation allowed to positively evaluate the application of a vineyard defense management protocol based on the combined use of forecasting models and resistance-inducing products, both in organic and integrated viticulture, maintaining similar production levels compared to ordinary business management and significantly improving environmental sustainability.

Critical steps in this strategy are constant field monitoring, as well as a careful and daily usage of the disease development model. With a lower disease pressure even the lowest input strategy gave complete protection with an increase in the quality and quantity of production as well as higher profitability. Environmental impact indicators also confirm a promising positive outcome of the protocols.