Yesterday afternoon marked the return of some of our favorite little farm workers. Sheep are naturally gifted when it comes to weeding, mowing, watering, and fertilizing. Last year we experimented with about 550 sheep, moving them every few days from one block to the next. This year we are experimenting with fewer sheep, keeping them in the same vineyard blocks for longer periods of time. This will also allow us to compare neighboring blocks (some farmed with sheep and some without) to really gauge the efficacy, analyze the differences in required farming inputs and labor, and most importantly measure the total soil nutrient losses due to the sheep. As we continue to learn, stay tuned for future observations and results.
The sheep can be in the vineyards leading up until bud break, but not long after for fear that they will eat the grape buds. This year we have earmarked vineyard blocks with higher trellising systems so that the sheep can remain in the vineyard a bit further into the growing season.
Related Post: Sheep in the vineyard 2009