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The multiple land use of agricultural areas is a building block for increased land use efficiency. Unlike monoculture, integrated crop-livestock systems optimally improve ecosystem services, making it an important field of research and application for adapting land use and food systems that have sustainability deficits. The integration of sheep in viticulture production is described as a promising example of an integrated crop-livestock system. While some studies of the integration of sheep into vineyards are already available for other parts of the world, there is still no research on its implementation in Central European viticulture systems. In order to fill this gap of knowledge, we conducted standardized interviews with 34 winegrowers who already graze sheep in their vineyards. The method allowed a wider overview of the implementation of the integrated crop-livestock system than would have been possible with other approaches. Furthermore, the authors kept sheep in their own vineyard for three years to evaluate the statements of the survey participants. The period during which sheep graze in vineyards is quite heterogeneous in Central Europe. Some farms use sheep only during vine dormancy; others also let sheep graze during a certain period in summer. There are also viticulture training systems where grazing is almost continuously possible. In Central Europe, summer grazing normally requires operational adjustments such as lifting the wires of the training system and branches of the vine; otherwise, the vines could be damaged. This option seems to be tailored to the training system in use. Some interviewees mentioned that sheep not only use the accompanying vegetation as fodder and therefore control the undervine growth, but in some cases, they were also able to replace other work processes, such as defoliating the grape zone or cleaning undesired vine shoots near the ground. However, a high additional workload due to livestock keeping was also mentioned by some survey participants. Some of the interviewees cooperate with shepherds, which could help to solve this challenge. Finally, we summarize possible opportunities and risks of this integrated crop-livestock system. Integrating sheep in vineyards seems to be quite feasible in the period of vine dormancy, whereas more information and considerably more effort is needed to integrate sheep during the vegetation period. Further research is needed to answer open questions especially for the necessary adaptions of the common vine training system or the implementation of alternative systems more suitable to combine with livestock keeping. Some practitioners found opportunities to merchandize the use of sheep in wine sales. This potentially unique selling point could be a solution for a broader consideration of sheep in vineyards.
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sustainability
Article
Sheep in the Vineyard: First Insights into a New Integrated
Crop–Livestock System in Central Europe
Nicolas Schoof 1, Anita Kirmer 2, Jakob Hörl 3, Rainer Luick 3, *, Sabine Tischew 2, Michael Breuer 4,
Frank Fischer 4, Sandra Müller 5and Vivien von Königslöw 6


Citation: Schoof, N.; Kirmer, A.;
Hörl, J.; Luick, R.; Tischew, S.; Breuer,
M.; Fischer, F.; Müller, S.; von
Königslöw, V. Sheep in the Vineyard:
First Insights into a New Integrated
Crop–Livestock System in Central
Europe. Sustainability 2021,13, 12340.
https://doi.org/10.3390/
su132212340
Academic Editor: Bernard Lacaze
Received: 22 September 2021
Accepted: 5 November 2021
Published: 9 November 2021
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Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
1Chair of Site Classification and Vegetation Science, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany;
nicolas.schoof@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de
2Nature Conservation and Landscape Planning, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences,
06406 Bernburg, Germany; Anita.Kirmer@hs-anhalt.de (A.K.); sabine.tischew@hs-anhalt.de (S.T.)
3Chair of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, University of Applied Forest Sciences Rottenburg,
72108 Rottenburg, Germany; hoerl@hs-rottenburg.de
4Chair of Biology, State Institute of Viticulture and Enology, 79100 Freiburg, Germany;
michael.breuer@wbi.bwl.de (M.B.); Frank.Fischer@wbi.bwl.de (F.F.)
5Chair of Geobotany, University of Freiburg, 79104 Freiburg, Germany;
sandra.mueller@biologie.uni-freiburg.de
6Chair of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, University of Freiburg,
79106 Freiburg, Germany; vivien.von.koenigsloew@nature.uni-freiburg.de
*Correspondence: luick@hs-rottenburg.de
Abstract:
The multiple land use of agricultural areas is a building block for increased land use
efficiency. Unlike monoculture, integrated crop–livestock systems optimally improve ecosystem
services, making it an important field of research and application for adapting land use and food
systems that have sustainability deficits. The integration of sheep in viticulture production is
described as a promising example of an integrated crop–livestock system. While some studies of the
integration of sheep into vineyards are already available for other parts of the world, there is still no
research on its implementation in Central European viticulture systems. In order to fill this gap of
knowledge, we conducted standardized interviews with 34 winegrowers who already graze sheep in
their vineyards. The method allowed a wider overview of the implementation of the integrated crop-
livestock system than would have been possible with other approaches. Furthermore, the authors
kept sheep in their own vineyard for three years to evaluate the statements of the survey participants.
The period during which sheep graze in vineyards is quite heterogeneous in Central Europe. Some
farms use sheep only during vine dormancy; others also let sheep graze during a certain period in
summer. There are also viticulture training systems where grazing is almost continuously possible.
In Central Europe, summer grazing normally requires operational adjustments such as lifting the
wires of the training system and branches of the vine; otherwise, the vines could be damaged. This
option seems to be tailored to the training system in use. Some interviewees mentioned that sheep
not only use the accompanying vegetation as fodder and therefore control the undervine growth,
but in some cases, they were also able to replace other work processes, such as defoliating the grape
zone or cleaning undesired vine shoots near the ground. However, a high additional workload due
to livestock keeping was also mentioned by some survey participants. Some of the interviewees
cooperate with shepherds, which could help to solve this challenge. Finally, we summarize possible
opportunities and risks of this integrated crop–livestock system. Integrating sheep in vineyards
seems to be quite feasible in the period of vine dormancy, whereas more information and considerably
more effort is needed to integrate sheep during the vegetation period. Further research is needed to
answer open questions especially for the necessary adaptions of the common vine training system or
the implementation of alternative systems more suitable to combine with livestock keeping. Some
practitioners found opportunities to merchandize the use of sheep in wine sales. This potentially
unique selling point could be a solution for a broader consideration of sheep in vineyards.
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212340 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 2 of 16
Keywords:
multiple land use; sheep; vineyards; agroecology; sustainable intensification; expert survey
1. Introduction
In recent decades, agriculture has been extremely successful in increasing arable land,
yields per hectare, and ensuring sufficient food for a rapidly growing world population.
Currently, we are witnessing the worldwide degradation of many ecosystems, putting
vital ecosystem services, such as soil fertility, carbon storage, pollination, and pest control,
at risk [
1
]. These challenges can be addressed by changing land use systems [
2
,
3
] and
adopting better resource-conserving agricultural practices [4].
Greater consideration of multiple use systems, such as integrated crop–livestock
systems (ICLS) is a piece in the puzzle of implementing a more sustainable agriculture [
5
,
6
].
Integrating sheep in vineyards is one of many possible ICLS. In practice, sheep graze
vineyards in the period of vine dormancy, but is also possible to integrate livestock during
the vegetation period. Livestock keeping and crop production have been studied in order to
develop synergies, but these studies are still typically undertaken in isolation [
5
,
7
]. First of
all, ICLS are limited by external (but potentially changeable) factors—e.g., by unfavourable
subsidy laws under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy [
8
]. Another major limiting
factor is that conceivable multiple uses are often incompatible with current operational
processes or technical–mechanical operating equipment unless adjustments are made.
Frequently, such systems also require additional know-how from farmers [
9
]. Relatively
little research has been conducted on ICLS in light of today’s technical and socioeconomic
events [10].
Grazing sheep in vineyards is an ICLS which is still very unusual for Central Europe. It
is more established in other countries such as New Zealand or Australia [
11
]. Vineyards are
extremely heterogeneous in terms of their history, layout, vine training, row and planting
distances, machine use, pesticide applications, and products offered [
12
]. Sheep farming
also varies in its economic importance, land expanse, husbandry, and sheep breeds [
13
].
Given this background, sheep can (or cannot) be integrated into viticulture in a variety of
ways—experience gained in different countries and under different conditions is therefore
only transferable to a limited extent.
Potential economic and ecological efficiency gains through the integration of livestock
farming and crop production are, on the whole, quite well recorded [
14
]. To what extent
this can be applied to the ICLS in question is, however, unexplored. Ref. [
8
] examined the
benefits, costs, and challenges of sheep grazing in vineyards using a case study of 15 New
Zealand wineries. They found that money could be saved because the winegrowers used
fewer herbicides and minimised mechanical weed control. Another potentially cost-saving
option is to allow sheep to pluck leaves in the grape zone, work which otherwise would
have to be performed manually or mechanically for many grape varieties and vineyard sites
to ensure grape and vintage quality [
15
]. There are hints that it can also be advantageous to
let sheep eat shoots close to the ground instead of removing them manually, mechanically
or with contact herbicides. Furthermore, it is reported that sheep can serve as appealing
figures in wine marketing [
16
]. Research is lacking on the pricing-in of potential positive
effects on other ecosystem services [17].
Importantly, there are to date no studies of the implementation of ICLS in Central
Europe. Our work offers the first qualitative insights. Our aim is to help further studies by
presenting the different ways in which this ICLS is implemented in a Central European
context. Therefore, we aim to answer the following questions:
1. What basic grazing methods are used in practice?
2. What key opportunities and risks are associated with ICLS?
3. What are the most urgent research needs?
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 3 of 16
2. Materials and Methods
Since no census exists of vintners who practice ICLS in Europe, a multi-stage approach
was adopted: first, it was assumed that a winery which uses sheep reflects this in its online-
marketing. Sheep can be a unique selling point [
16
]. These operations were identified
with a targeted search on Google by using the keywords “sheep in viticulture” and related
terms/combinations, such as “four-legged”, “ruminants”, and “animal lawnmowers” or
“winegrowing”, “vineyard”, and “vines”. All vintners identified in this way were first
contacted by telephone before emailing them an invitation with an embedded link to the
online survey. Finally, participants were asked to name other establishments that they
know of that also practice ICLS.
Comparable to the study [
8
] performed in New Zealand, we used a structured online
questionnaire, asking practitioners both open- and closed-ended questions. A total of
34 winegrowers from Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy participated in
the survey. We define them as ‘pioneers’, because they started this ICLS in a deficient
information situation. The response rate on the preliminary call and subsequent email
was 90%. Twenty-four pioneers had been using sheep in their vineyards for two or
more years, four had been practising the ICLS for less than two years, two had given up
sheep farming, and another four did not reply to this question. Sixteen participants were
operating in France, with ten of them in the Gare and Languedoc-Roussillon départements,
as well as fifteen in Germany and one each in Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. A total
of
18 operators
were fully certified and three were partially certified under the criteria of
the EU Eco-Regulation. Ten worked conventionally only (three gave no answer). Sixteen
pioneers subjectively classified the topography of their vineyards as “easy” in terms of the
cultivation effort required, nine as “medium”, and six as “difficult” (three gave no answer).
The
18 operations
in German-speaking countries, with one exception, owned the animals
they used in the vineyards. In contrast, in France, 14 of 16 operations outsourced the job to
independent sheep farmers.
Our research also drew on our first-hand experience of keeping 35 sheep of two breeds
(20 Ouessant, 15 Shropshire) in different vine training systems: spalier with Guyot pruning
(first wire defining the grape zone with ~90–105 cm; Figure 1), top-wire cordon training
(wire at ~160 cm height) (Figure 2), and spalier with minimal pruning (which is quite
common in New Zealand and Australia, but rare in Central Europe) with a relatively high
grape zone. Our sheep graze in a ~10 ha vineyard all year round. The trial has been taking
place in Freiburg and Ihringen (Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany) since the beginning of
2019. We used our experience gained in this post-disciplinary approach to better assess the
answers of the respondents.
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 4 of 16
Sustainability 2021, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 17
Figure 1. Sheep of the Ouessant breed are grazing a spalier training system with Guyot pruning. This training system is
widely used in Central Europe. Here, the first wire is at ~90 cm height.
Figure 2. Sheep-grazed vineyard with a top-wire cordon training (hanging cane). Here, the wire is at ~160 cm height.
Figure 1.
Sheep of the Ouessant breed are grazing a spalier training system with Guyot pruning. This training system is
widely used in Central Europe. Here, the first wire is at ~90 cm height.
Sustainability 2021, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 17
Figure 1. Sheep of the Ouessant breed are grazing a spalier training system with Guyot pruning. This training system is
widely used in Central Europe. Here, the first wire is at ~90 cm height.
Figure 2. Sheep-grazed vineyard with a top-wire cordon training (hanging cane). Here, the wire is at ~160 cm height.
Figure 2. Sheep-grazed vineyard with a top-wire cordon training (hanging cane). Here, the wire is at ~160 cm height.
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 5 of 16
3. Results
Of the French operators that participated in the survey, 12 out of 16 grazed sheep
in the vineyard during the period of vine dormancy (4 gave no answer). Only 3 out of
18 German-speaking operators limited the system to winter grazing (1 gave no answer).
Fourteen also kept the sheep in the vines during the growing season. Of the latter, three
allowed a potential year-round grazing, meaning that access to the vineyards could be
arranged as needed at any time. This also includes phases of vine development that would
be problematic in other vineyards. The potential year-round grazing is made possible in
one pioneer’s case by stringing electrified wires alongside the canopy. The other two use
high vine training, so that grapes and leaves are (mostly) out of the animals’ reach. Here,
this is the case in top-wire cordon training systems. In spalier-systems with Guyot pruning,
which are widely used in Central Europe, the browsing-sensitive (critical) phases at least
seem to comprise the time from budding to the end of the time berries are groat-sized and
then from the veraison (start of the ripening of the grapes) through to harvest time [
15
].
Even in vineyards with very high fruit branches (e.g., top-wire cordon training), sheep
do not actually graze on a particular surface all year round—although, from a purely
wine-growing perspective, this would be feasible in some cases. Nine operators with
summer grazing reported the use of alternative areas outside the vineyards (
e.g., meadows
,
orchards) during critical phases of the vines’ phenological development. At least six of them
also use the sheep to selectively graze the vines’ foliage in the grape zone (leaf plucking).
For exclusively winter grazing, the grazing area of the operations surveyed ranged
from 2 to 400 ha (median: 11.5 ha), with between 8 and 2500 sheep (median: 150 animals)
in the vines. The summer-grazed dual-use areas covered between 0.2 and 12 ha (median:
1 ha) and were grazed by 4 to 70 sheep (median: ten animals).
The German-speaking pioneers use different breeds than the French do. The latter use
whatever breed the cooperating sheep farmer supplies. In vineyards that (also) practise
summer grazing, the choice of sheep breed plays an important role, as breed-specific
size differences produce disparate results in vine leaf pulling. Nine of the 14 operations
conducting summer grazing deployed the Ouessant sheep, listed as the world‘s smallest
breed [
18
]. Two farms used Shropshire sheep, and one each used Cameroons, German
heaths, Blacknoses, “Babydoll” Southdowns, or Suffolks. For a decade now, the Austrian
winery Ernst Triebaumer has been cross-breeding sheep to develop traits that are explicitly
geared to vineyard use. These traits are robustness, reliability, and that the sheep shed
their fleeces naturally. Two of the fourteen wineries with summer grazing keep groups of
mixed-breed sheep.
Depending on whether exclusively winter or (in addition) summer grazing was
carried out, responses were analysed separately, since viticultural effects differ. First, we
asked if using sheep decreased the viticultural workload. Of the 14 wineries with summer
grazing (from here on, including those with potential year-round grazing), three pioneers
agreed “fully”, four others “more than not“, three “slightly”, and four “not really”. The
14 responding
wineries with pure winter grazing responded with three agreeing “fully”,
four “more than not”, six “slightly”, and one “not really”.
The pioneers were asked to identify the two main advantages of using sheep. They
were also prompted to mention any other benefits they were aware of (Figure 3). Then,
they were asked about the main disadvantages. The pioneers considered the additional
expense involved in handling the animals in exclusively winter or summer grazing as the
most important drawback (Table 1).
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 6 of 16
Sustainability 2021, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 17
Figure 3. Advantages of the ICLS mentioned by the survey participants (N). Main advantages (top benefits) are indicated
by darker colour shades. Each participant could give two answers on the main advantages. Participants could name sev-
eral answers about other benefits. These are indicated by lighter shades of colour. Responses are broken down according
to wineries with exclusively winter grazing (Navailable = 13; blue colours) and wineries with (additional) summer grazing
(Navailable = 14; green colours). The numerals indicate the number of entries.
Table 1. Answers by survey participants (N) to the question about the main disadvantages of the ICLS. For the category
“Additional expense of handling animals”, several subitems were mentioned in some cases. Answers are broken down
according to dual use system with exclusively winter grazing (Navailable = 11) and (additional) summer grazing (Navailable =
11).
Drawbacks
Number of Mentions
(Multiple Entries Allowed)
With Summer Grazing Exclusively Winter Grazing
Stripping the vine cordons 2 1
Soil compaction 2
Financial costs of sheep/equipment 2
Fostering problem vegetation 1
Conflicts with walkers 2
Added costs for:
-handling animals 11 5
-fencing 7 2
-continuous monitoring 3 1
-watering trough 2
2
6
1
1
3
5
1
6
3
6
2
3
6
1
4
4
3
1
7
2
1
3
2
8
1
5
2
2
2
1
1
012345678910
Abiotic resource conservation (excl. soil)
Vegetation control
Removing redundant trunk shoots
Soil / erosion prevention
Slope maintenance
Fertilization effects
Promoting biodiversity
Fun / exercise
Grape zone leaf pulling
Improved marketing / image
Repelling problematic wildlife
Labor saving
Other
Summer grazing: top benefits Summer grazing: other benefits
Winter grazing: top benefits Winter grazing: other benefits
Figure 3.
Advantages of the ICLS mentioned by the survey participants (N). Main advantages (top benefits) are indicated
by darker colour shades. Each participant could give two answers on the main advantages. Participants could name several
answers about other benefits. These are indicated by lighter shades of colour. Responses are broken down according to
wineries with exclusively winter grazing (N
available
= 13; blue colours) and wineries with (additional) summer grazing
(Navailable = 14; green colours). The numerals indicate the number of entries.
Table 1.
Answers by survey participants (N) to the question about the main disadvantages of the ICLS. For the cate-
gory “Additional expense of handling animals”, several subitems were mentioned in some cases. Answers are broken
down according to dual use system with exclusively winter grazing (N
available
= 11) and (additional) summer grazing
(Navailable = 11).
Drawbacks
Number of Mentions
(Multiple Entries Allowed)
with Summer Grazing Exclusively Winter Grazing
Stripping the vine cordons 2 1
Soil compaction 2
Financial costs of sheep/equipment 2
Fostering problem vegetation 1
Conflicts with walkers 2
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 7 of 16
Table 1. Cont.
Drawbacks
Number of Mentions
(Multiple Entries Allowed)
with Summer Grazing Exclusively Winter Grazing
Added costs for:
-handling animals 11 5
-fencing 7 2
-continuous monitoring 3 1
-watering trough 2
-shelter 1
Added cost of protecting young grapes 1
Potential damage from erosion 1
Stripping/browsing of vines 1
Risk of penalties for not keeping certification current 1
Animal health problems 1
Undesirable nutrient removal 1
Uncertain PSM effect on animals 3
Having an alternate area available 1 1
The pioneers were then asked about any initial reservations they had about the ICLS
that had subsequently been allayed by an in-house trial run. Ten answers were evaluated
for this question. Cited three times as allayed reservations were “damage to the vine”,
twice for “high effort” and “lack of knowledge”, and once each for “sheep eat immature
grapes”, “financial risk”, and “fear of personal embarrassment”. The operators were
also asked whether they could recommend specific viticultural modifications for a more
efficient implementation of the ICLS. Both the pioneers with exclusively winter grazing
and those with (additional) summer grazing most often recommended adjusting the height
of fruiting branches by raising the first wire (four and ten mentions, respectively). The
recommendations for top-wire cordon training system or spalier with minimal pruning
also aimed to achieve the same result (Table 2).
Table 2.
Recommendations of the survey participants (N) for a successful implementation of the ICLS; multiple entries
allowed, answers are broken down according to exclusively winter grazing (N
available
= 11) and (additional) summer
grazing (Navailable = 14).
Recommended Measure
Number of Mentions
(Multiple Entries Allowed)
with Summer Grazing Exclusively Winter Grazing
Raising the height of fruiting branches 10 4
Adjusting timing sequences 1 3
Solidly fastening vine stock to prevent damage 2 2
Good tying-up to prevent damage to the canopy 3
No answer 5
No year-round grazing (fosters problem vegetation) 1
Cooperating with sheep farm 1
Exempting critical growth phases from grazing 1
Choosing suitable sheep breeds 1
Protecting with electrified wire during critical growth phases 1
top-wire cordon or minimal pruning 4
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 8 of 16
The production and sale of sheep meat did not play a decisive role for operators who
keep their own sheep (N = 16). Six of the operators were in principle in favour of marketing
it, but had concerns about possible spray residue from vineyards tainting the meat. One
pioneer who allowed several weeks of summer grazing reported that his carcasses tested
negative for such residues. One organic farm sells its meat exclusively to luxury restaurants
“at top prices”. Two others were able to sell their meat. Lamb retailed for 20 EUR/kg in
this case. One establishment also reported selling sheepskins at a profit of EUR 160 per
skin. Eight participants did not consider selling meat an option. For the 15 operators who
cooperated with outside sheep farms it can be assumed that, in those cases, typical sheep
farm sales practices prevail [
19
]. Finally, participants were asked what it would take to
expand their use of the ICLS (Table 3).
Table 3.
Steps recommended by the survey participants (N) for wider use of ICLS. Multiple entries were possible,
answers have been broken down according to exclusively winter grazing (N
available
= 11) and (additional) summer grazing
(Navailable = 10).
Recommended Steps
Number of Mentions
(Multiple Entries Allowed)
with Summer Grazing Exclusively Winter Grazing
Financial support 1 1
Promoting/targeted start-up of sheep farms 1 3
More basic research (e.g., impact on biodiversity) 1 1
Fields must be enlarged 1 1
Tourism has to embrace it 1
Change vintner thinking 1
Better information/consulting for practitioners 5 3
Prohibit herbicide use 2
Improve sheep breeds 1
4. Discussion
We aimed for qualitative insights into the implementation of ICLS in Central Europe.
A conclusive evaluation of the ICLS is, however, not possible using the methodological
approach of our survey. It seems likely that winegrowers who still practice ICLS tend to
communicate the effects more positively. Wineries that have used sheep in the past but
discontinued the use due to undesirable developments were not adequately covered by our
methodological approach. In the absence of public operational recording, these farms can
hardly be identified, if at all. A more holistic evaluation would be possible, for example,
through standardized practical trials over several years.
The survey methodology we used is better suited for identifying opportunities in
the ICLS than for identifying its limitations. For instance, we found no evidence of sheep
browsing berries within the period mentioned above, but our survey methodology is not
able to exclude this for every combination of sheep breed in use and type of grape. Further
research is needed to rule out potential limitations in different vineyards.
Based on our own experience, winter grazing of vineyards by sheep seems to be more
widespread in German-speaking countries than the study results suggest. The marketing
potential of winter grazing seems rarely to be publicized, so it is not taken up in the
media. This seems to be less the case in the south of France; in the Southeast of France,
vines are trained closed to the ground, so that the vineyard is only suitable for grazing
during the winter months (Figure 4). This explains the divergent results reported by the
German-speaking and French operations.
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 9 of 16
Sustainability 2021, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 17
Figure 4. A typical vine training system in France (Département Ardeche). The first wire is at ~55 cm height, thus the grape
zone would be damaged with summer grazing.
A strict distinction must be made between summer and winter grazing. Our study
supports the presumption that grazing in winter, during the dormancy of the vines, is
much less risky in the common vine training systems of Central Europe. Winter grazing
can probably also be carried out more easily with the breeds used by commercially ori-
ented shepherds. The limits of summer grazing are largely determined by vine training
such as the height of the wire (defining the grape zone) or the lowest shoot of fruiting
branches. Certain kinds of training are therefore in principle unsuitable for grazing during
the growing season—e.g., Gobelet training (bush form). In contrast, training systems with
vertical shoot positioning can potentially be grazed in summer too, if the canes/cordons
are not too low and a suitable sheep breed is used. If the plants in such systems are pro-
tected during browsing-sensitive development phases, it seems likely that year-round
grazing also becomes possible. Based on the answers to our survey, training systems such
as top-wire cordon training (hanging cane) or adapted spalier with minimal pruning do
not necessarily go through these critical phases—at least if the sheep breed used is suita-
ble. As the only such study from Central Europe so far, [20] reports an ethological long-
term observation of Suffolk lambs in a summer grazing of a vineyard with (quite uncom-
mon) hanging canes (wire at ~170 cm height), which was satisfactory from a viticultural
point of view. A detailed description of the training system is crucial for further research
papers and practitioners. Without this information, results remain almost worthless due
to the variety of systems in use. We have observed this lack of detailed descriptions in
Figure 4.
A typical vine training system in France (Département Ardeche). The first wire is at ~55 cm height, thus the grape
zone would be damaged with summer grazing.
A strict distinction must be made between summer and winter grazing. Our study
supports the presumption that grazing in winter, during the dormancy of the vines, is
much less risky in the common vine training systems of Central Europe. Winter grazing
can probably also be carried out more easily with the breeds used by commercially oriented
shepherds. The limits of summer grazing are largely determined by vine training such as
the height of the wire (defining the grape zone) or the lowest shoot of fruiting branches.
Certain kinds of training are therefore in principle unsuitable for grazing during the
growing season—e.g., Gobelet training (bush form). In contrast, training systems with
vertical shoot positioning can potentially be grazed in summer too, if the canes/cordons are
not too low and a suitable sheep breed is used. If the plants in such systems are protected
during browsing-sensitive development phases, it seems likely that year-round grazing
also becomes possible. Based on the answers to our survey, training systems such as
top-wire cordon training (hanging cane) or adapted spalier with minimal pruning do not
necessarily go through these critical phases—at least if the sheep breed used is suitable.
As the only such study from Central Europe so far, [
20
] reports an ethological long-term
observation of Suffolk lambs in a summer grazing of a vineyard with (quite uncommon)
hanging canes (wire at ~170 cm height), which was satisfactory from a viticultural point of
view. A detailed description of the training system is crucial for further research papers
and practitioners. Without this information, results remain almost worthless due to the
variety of systems in use. We have observed this lack of detailed descriptions in some
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 10 of 16
scientific publications, e.g., [
11
,
15
]. Another example of the limited quality of information
is that none of these studies discuss veterinary concerns potentially caused by the use of
fungicides such as copper [21].
Grazing systems can be conceived of mainly as land rotation systems. An alternative
area (on adjacent grassland) or parcelling of the pasture area seems to be necessary for
handling the various stages of viticulture and animal husbandry, at least in regions where
vineyards are typically small-sized. For some farmers, cooperative systems seem to be a
solution to integrating sheep into viticulture. This is especially true for winter grazing,
but cooperation with sheep farms in which the animals are used on a vineyard in summer
are reported, too. A “brief summer-grazing” can be used for leaf plucking in the grape
zone and, on an imaginary scale for the annual single-area grazing period, this forms
the opposite pole to continuous year-round grazing. The various differences in stocking
time/density per area are also given in other grazing systems. To zero in on the specific
grazing form and time within the ICLS, the established literature on grazing should be
referred to [22,23].
Our survey provides an insight into the implementation of an ICLS in Central Europe.
It supports the assumption that this ICLS is feasible, cf. [
8
], but it also shows that, in practice,
implementation is very diverse and there is a need for basic information for practitioners.
Without further investigations, no statements can be made on the extent to which summer
grazing can be established in Central Europe. The individual responses of the pioneers
show that sheep can also cause damage (e.g., on new plantings that should be protected).
The survey provides initial indications that these challenges could effectively be mastered
by adaptations in vine training forms and the sheep breed used. The survey revealed
the height of the grape zone as the crucial factor. The potential concern that sheep could
damage the vascular tissues of the vines by debarking were not confirmed by any of our
interviewees. No farm reported sheep feeding on immature grapes before the beginning of
the ripening process. The information deficits which the pioneers have highlighted should
now be addressed by applied research.
Based on the survey results and our own experiences, we also conclude that the
timespan which sheep spend in vineyards is crucial for potential risks. In systems with
(mostly) inaccessible fruiting branches, the time sheep are left to graze is at least influenced
by the extent of the feed supply. In their study, [
18
] identified robustness, reliability, natural
shedding of fleeces, a low height of the mouth, and the inability to stand on two legs
as desirable sheep breed characteristics for Central European viticulture (Figure 5). The
authors examined and measured 27 breeds and evaluated the characteristics for adult
animals. Only three of them—Danish Shropshire (Figure 6), Southdown (not “Babydoll”),
Ouessant—can be considered suitable in principle; none of the breeds examined fulfils all
the desired characteristics. None of the three are hair sheep and, additionally, Ouessant
are difficult to manage, have a low feeding capacity and they are able to stand on two
legs. The last skill is not very important here, because this breed tends to be very small.
The authors of [
18
] also conclude that other breeds, including those common in Europe
(e.g., Merino) are suitable for summer grazing for a short period of a few days. The reason
for this is that the spalier-systems with Guyot pruning that are typical in Central Europe
are normally too low and most breeds would be able to defoliate too high up the vine.
Unsuitable characteristics are not only an issue of breed, of course; they can also result
from the individual skills of the sheep. Another issue to bear in mind is that climate change
(whereby the vines now produce more sugar) has made it possible to shorten the high
foliage wall of the vines. This is achieved by raising the lowest wire of the trellis system.
This development could have a favourable effect on the possibility of integrating sheep in
vineyards. Nevertheless, summer grazing will usually still be limited to non-critical phases
in the most common training systems [18].
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 11 of 16
Sustainability 2021, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 17
Figure 5. Most sheep breeds are able to stand on two legs, which is unfavourable in common vine training systems. This
skill enables sheep to defoliate too high up the vine. While leaf plucking in the grape zone is highly welcome, defoliating
well above the grape zone causes production losses and grape sunburn [15].
Figure 5.
Most sheep breeds are able to stand on two legs, which is unfavourable in common vine training systems. This
skill enables sheep to defoliate too high up the vine. While leaf plucking in the grape zone is highly welcome, defoliating
well above the grape zone causes production losses and grape sunburn [15].
Sustainability 2021, 13, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 17
Figure 6. Sheep of the Danish Shropshire breed (and at least some of those crossed with the English Shropshire) seem
perfect for leaf plucking. The breed is not able to stand on two legs. This was confirmed for adult animals but not yet for
lambs [18].
Managing the canopy and the accompanying vegetation growth is work central to
viticulture. The interviewees reported that winter grazing and therefore the control of
vegetation growth has potential for reducing the use of machinery and of herbicides. This
could have implications for abiotic (e.g., reduced use of fossil fuels/climate protection, soil
conservation) and biotic resource protection (e.g., dung fauna, soil life). Summer grazing
is increasingly complex, as viticulture workflows have to be adapted to sheep farming
requirements. In return, however, summer grazing opens up further potentials for reduc-
ing machine use (especially control of accompanying vegetation growth), for herbicide
application, and for work that must be performed directly on the plant (i.e., leaf plucking
in the grape zone and browsing of undesired vine shoots at the trunk).
Based on our survey, the ICLS described above distinguishes itself from others in
offering (1) additional opportunities for marketing, and (2) the potential for using the an-
imals as an aid or a substitute in several necessary stages of viticultural work. The poten-
tials are also interesting from a business point of view in the case of steep and terraced
vineyards, as the hourly labour costs of working on them are higher and using machines
on them is difficult [24]. However, as mentioned above, the statements of our interviewees
are only initial evidence. Additional studies will be required to meticulously record the
various forms of implementation in terms of hours worked and resources expended.
In Central Europe, vineyards are often located in climatically favourable sites and
regions that are of particular interest from a nature conservation point of view. A range
of thermophilic species are often located there. Whether the use of sheep actually corre-
lates with improvements in the nature conservation of these habitats and of target species
(e.g., the smooth snake) is not least a question of grazing management, which in turn de-
pends on viticulture requirements [20] (Figure 7).
Figure 6.
Sheep of the Danish Shropshire breed (and at least some of those crossed with the English Shropshire) seem
perfect for leaf plucking. The breed is not able to stand on two legs. This was confirmed for adult animals but not yet for
lambs [18].
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 12 of 16
Managing the canopy and the accompanying vegetation growth is work central to
viticulture. The interviewees reported that winter grazing and therefore the control of
vegetation growth has potential for reducing the use of machinery and of herbicides. This
could have implications for abiotic (e.g., reduced use of fossil fuels/climate protection,
soil conservation) and biotic resource protection (e.g., dung fauna, soil life). Summer
grazing is increasingly complex, as viticulture workflows have to be adapted to sheep
farming requirements. In return, however, summer grazing opens up further potentials
for reducing machine use (especially control of accompanying vegetation growth), for
herbicide application, and for work that must be performed directly on the plant (i.e., leaf
plucking in the grape zone and browsing of undesired vine shoots at the trunk).
Based on our survey, the ICLS described above distinguishes itself from others in
offering (1) additional opportunities for marketing, and (2) the potential for using the
animals as an aid or a substitute in several necessary stages of viticultural work. The
potentials are also interesting from a business point of view in the case of steep and terraced
vineyards, as the hourly labour costs of working on them are higher and using machines
on them is difficult [
24
]. However, as mentioned above, the statements of our interviewees
are only initial evidence. Additional studies will be required to meticulously record the
various forms of implementation in terms of hours worked and resources expended.
In Central Europe, vineyards are often located in climatically favourable sites and
regions that are of particular interest from a nature conservation point of view. A range of
thermophilic species are often located there. Whether the use of sheep actually correlates
with improvements in the nature conservation of these habitats and of target species
(
e.g., the smooth
snake) is not least a question of grazing management, which in turn
depends on viticulture requirements [20] (Figure 7).
Figure 7.
Sheep grazing a vineyard in the period of vine dormancy. In Central Europe, many vineyards have deep
terraces. Sheep are able to graze here, so that mulching is no longer required. This is an improvement especially for insect
conservation [25].
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 13 of 16
Intensive grazing does not necessarily correlate with an increase in biodiversity, at least
at the level of
α
-diversity [
3
]. However, if grazing complements mulch viticulture systems,
it is likely to have a positive effect on the
β
-diversity of the vineyard (e.g., because dung
beetles migrate into the system as a new guild). In the interests of species conservation,
therefore, the use of veterinary active substances should always be limited to what is
absolutely necessary [26].
Many ecosystem services are affected by the use of sheep in the vineyard, but very
little evidence-based measurement of the actual impacts exists. ICLS are proven to be able
to support sustainability efforts in general [
5
], but this depends on details. For example,
sheep farmers or winegrowers who have to travel by car to look after the animals would
create a carbon footprint because of the fossil fuel use; the cost of fossil fuel consumption
in that case can exceed the cost savings from the reduced use of machinery in the vineyard.
This seems to be especially true if the products of animal husbandry are not used and this
aspect of increasing acreage efficiency remains idle.
The pioneer survey indicates that synchronizing the handling of sheep with viti-
cultural requirements can present challenges. These could potentially be overcome by
cooperating with professional sheep farms. Nevertheless, for many vineyards of Central
Europe, the large, heavy sheep breeds which are mainly used in professional sheep farming
could cause problems during the growing season. In many cases, browsers will then be
significantly taller than the lowest wire or cane/cordon, resulting in too high defoliation.
Sheep incapable of rearing up on two legs are generally not found on professional sheep
farms in Central Europe. In the vegetation period, cooperation between shepherds and
winegrowers requires good coordination and flexible timing on both sides, which is likely
to run up against limits given the relatively narrow time-windows for spraying plant
protection products (PPP) in humid climates. In contrast, winter grazing is likely to be
of interest to sheep farmers as a source of winter fodder, given favourable site configura-
tions and locations, conceivably even without any costs [
27
]. On the other hand, summer
grazing is, in Central Europe, surely only conceivable as a paid service. It is may well
be unappealing for sheep farmers to keep their livestock in vineyards at times when the
foraging situation elsewhere is favourable due to good weather conditions.
Our findings are mostly in line with those [
8
] found in New Zealand. A difference
between the situation in New Zealand and Central Europe, however, seems to be the
amount of herbicides used. The statements of [
8
] give the impression that herbicides are
more frequently used in New Zealand’s vineyards and the cost saving effects of using sheep
instead of herbicides is therefore potentially higher. Given the reasons mentioned above,
we advise further research, comparing the effects on nature and resource conservation of
using sheep in vineyards. Until then, it is likely that the efficiency of a defined site increases
due to the additional by-products of the sheep, but the benefits for resource conservation
remain situation-related.
Using examples from the food sector, [
28
] has shown that the current pricing system
leads to misinformation about the actual environmental costs of production. This also
applies to viticulture. Environmental costs arising from the use of machinery (e.g., soil com-
paction) and PPP applications are not included in the wine sector’s economic accounting.
This should receive greater consideration in a political reordering of the food sector, which
in turn should favour ICLS [
5
,
25
,
29
]. Ultimately, demands for more sustainable agriculture
affect the production of luxury consumables in particular, since their social and ethical
legitimacy cannot be justified by calling them basic necessities.
Solutions need to be found on how to make viticulture more sustainable in terms
of ensuring ecosystem services. Below, we list research approaches that are of crucial
importance in the further development of the ICLS “sheep in vineyards”.
Basic research:
#
How does the ICLS affect biodiversity in comparison with the fully compre-
hensive use of machines and herbicides?
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 14 of 16
#
How do the soil parameters and the water resources of the vines change under
grazing?
#What impact can be expected on the carbon footprint?
Applied research:
#
An important open research question concerns the effect of PPP on sheep. For
example, copper, which is used specifically in organic viticulture as a fungicide,
was found to cause chronic copper poisoning in different situations outside
of vineyards [
21
]. Studies are needed on whether and under what conditions
such active substances can be dangerous for sheep.
#
To maximize the benefits of the ICLS and effectively reduce the risks, it is
necessary to explore how the workflows of the two individual systems can
be optimally synchronized. This applies to grazing management including
fencing, the choice of breed, possible breeding adjustments, and furthermore,
the possibility of cooperation between shepherds and winegrowers.
#
With some forms of vine training, grazing can potentially be carried out year-
round without drastic changes. However, many vines must first be adapted
or protected for year-round grazing. To this end, the following options are
suggested by the survey participants and should be considered in further
research:
Retraining the vine toward higher branches;
Protecting the canopy with electrified wires; and
Breeding/using small-framed sheep breeds, absolutely unable to stand
on two legs.
The viticultural effects and the economic accounting should be differentiated according
to the processing variables of different systems of viticulture and the exigencies or savings
potential of using sheep.
The marketing of sheep products should be examined in conjunction with the distri-
bution of viticultural products. However, it will first be necessary to determine if residual
PPP substances affect the sheep’s carcass.
5. Conclusions
Our research gives initial insights into an ICLS in Central Europe. Grazing is limited
in time by the form of the vine-training system, the phenology of the vine, and the breed of
sheep in use. If certain precautions are taken, sheep can perform viticultural work, such
as pulling leaves in the grape zone or browsing undesired shoots near the ground. The
survey revealed a wide variety of types of ICLS being implemented in Central Europe.
The adaption of the height of the grape zone is a crucial factor for its success during
the vegetation period. Particularly in France, sheep graze vineyards only during vine
dormancy. Among French survey respondents, collaborations between shepherds and
winemakers were common. The German winegrowers predominantly reported sheep
grazing also during the vegetation period and they tend to keep the livestock themselves.
In individual cases, it seems possible to keep sheep in vineyards “year-round”. This
requires a protection of the grape zone or a high vine training. The breeds of sheep
used by the survey participants are mostly not those which have been considered most
suitable for implementing the ICLS. Our study revealed a lack of in-depth information
for practitioners. Interviewees reported that the ICLS improves land use efficiency by
producing additional goods. Some winegrowers use the ICLS for wine marketing. The
majority of the pioneers surveyed expect positive effects on resource conservation on site,
though there is still a lack of evidence-based studies to verify this conclusion. Whether
the ICLS can support additional ecosystem services depends on factors such as grazing
intensity. It is therefore possible that the potentials of integrating sheep in viticulture
are overestimated by practitioners. For instance, the potential toxicity of PPPs for sheep
requires further research before promoting the ICLS. In addition, there is a lack of studies
Sustainability 2021,13, 12340 15 of 16
estimating the working time required for livestock keeping within vineyards. However,
our study also shows that the ICLS has already convinced some winemakers. Since the
integration of the sheep logically implies a higher land use efficiency by using the vegetation
as fodder and since the interviewees reported some advantages for the operational process,
further research seems sensible. The ICLS could potentially help to promote a more
sustainable viticulture.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualisation: N.S., A.K., J.H., R.L., M.B.; methodology: N.S., A.K., S.M.,
V.v.K.; data collection and analysis: N.S., J.H., F.F., S.M., V.v.K.; writing—original draft: N.S., A.K.,
J.H., R.L., S.M.; writing—reviewing and editing: N.S., A.K., J.H., S.T., M.B., F.F.; funding acquisition:
N.S., R.L., M.B.; resources: R.L., M.B., F.F.; supervision: R.L., M.B. All authors have read and agreed
to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding:
This research was funded by the Baden-Wuerttemberg Nature Conservation Fund, the
Musella Foundation for a Socio-Ecological Future, and the Heidehof Foundation. The article pro-
cessing charge was funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Cul-
ture and the University of Applied Forest Sciences Rottenburg in the funding programme Open
Access Publishing.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement:
Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the
study. Written informed consent has been obtained from the patient to publish this paper.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... The use of sheep to graze in vineyards during the growing season is a new form of integrated crop-livestock system (ICLS; [4]) that has hitherto scarcely been explored [5]. It has interesting potential in terms of agro-ecological system services [6][7][8][9][10], and it seems possible that specific requirements for breed traits could help to expand the market for sheep breeds or rare breed traits. ...
... (3) stronger orientation towards nutrient cycles including potentially positive effects on ecosystem services; and (4) image enhancement for the winegrower with new marketing options [10,11]. Whether and to what extent these presumed potentials are activated surely depends on various influencing factors. ...
... The latter encompasses, amongst others, veterinary issues and the lack of predictability regarding pasture management and its correlative effects on the foliage area of the vines. For example, research has yet to determine the height which different sheep breeds can reach when grazing and the minimum or optimal height at which the top of vine stems and leading-or fruit shoots should be located [10,11]. Niles et al. [6] show comparable results in a study conducted in New Zealand. ...
Article
Full-text available
Protecting a breed of sheep is simple when there is demand for its breed traits, but new market options are often hard to find. In general, grazing sheep are able to take over some viticultural work. Here, we address a new and promising integrated crop-livestock system that involves the integration of sheep in the vineyard during the growing season. Using sheep in a vineyard entails opportunities but also risks, such as the current lack of information, specifically in relation to breed traits. In our survey, we evaluated 26 breeds for their suitability for grazing as long as possible in Central European vineyards during the growing season. First, the breed traits required were identified. Then, 94 flock book breeders were interviewed about specific breed traits. The height of a sheep’s muzzle is particularly important for assessing the suitability of a breed, as it defines the potential impact on the foliage area during the growing season. To determine the height of the muzzle, 179 flock book animals were measured. We found that the most important breeding objective for a new breed of sheep is the inability to stand on two legs. Adult animals of the breed Shropshire, and among these especially the shorter-legged Danish type, and Southdown, show a widespread inability to stand on two legs. Ouessant sheep are able to do so, yet are suitable with some limitations. Due to their extraordinarily small size, their reach is limited, as is their grazing performance. Thus, three of the 26 breeds studied here seem suitable for use in the most widespread vine training systems of Central Europe during the growing season. Targeted breeding could further improve the suitability of sheep for viticulture. Our findings could help to protect breeds and breed traits.
... Studies with ICLS have mainly focused on the integration of cattle into cropping systems (Garrett et al., 2017;Peterson et al., 2020;Rovira et al., 2020). However, the integration of sheep into annual crop-pasture rotations (Montossi et al., 2013;Savian et al., 2014;Farias et al., 2020) and perennial systems (Montossi et al., 2013;Niles et al., 2018;Schoof et al., 2021) has been shown to improve on-farm resource-use efficiency and income. In addition, mixed grazing of cattle and sheep has long been a common practice in the Rio de la Plata native grasslands (Pallarés et al., 2005;Modernel et al., 2016;Paparamborda, 2017), making sheep integration into existing cropping systems an alternative to forage budgeting, especially in periods of low forage production in the native grasslands (Moraes et al., 2014). ...
... Fig. 2 presents three scenarios to farm designs in order to reflect different levels of intensification and diversification. These scenarios were selected based on knowledge and field experience, and they are also described in the scientific literature (Aleixandre et al., 2013;Oliveira et al., 2017;Schoof et al., 2021;Vargas et al., 2020;Viana et al., 2021). The proposed scenarios show an increase in complexity and number of crops involved, according to the most representative cash and forage crops in Rio de La Plata region to improve the region's land-use efficiency and ecosystem services, along with better use of labor, cross-sectoral cooperation, and financial risk reductions. ...
... Therefore, the vineyard areas have potential to improve the region's land-use efficiency and ecosystem services, along with better use of labor, cross-sectoral cooperation, and financial risk reductions. Integrating sheep in vineyards seems to be quite feasible in the period of vine dormancy (Schoof et al., 2021;Niles et al., 2018). However, ICLS at the landscape level (or territorial ICLS), depends on agreements between farmers to reach mutual benefits (Garret et al., 2020;Niles et al., 2018). ...
Article
The Rio de la Plata region (Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil) is currently characterized by a mosaic of intensively managed croplands and remaining areas of livestock production on native grasslands. The production of crops and animals in this scenario is usually spatially segregated as a result of mindset and structural constraints developed over decades of agricultural specialization. However, several studies have suggested that crop-livestock integration across various spatio-temporal scales can improve land-use efficiency and ecosystem services provisioning. In this context, the long-standing tradition of Rio de la Plata region’s ranchers on sheep production summed to the easy-to-manage body size of these small ruminants make them fit into a wide range of farm sizes and integrated crop-livestock system (ICLS) designs. In addition, the large variety of crops produced in the region, including annual (e.g., soybean, maize, rice and wheat) and perennial (e.g., orchards, vineyards and woodlands), and the diversity of temperate and tropical forage species used in livestock systems, provide multiple ICLS possibilities. In this review, we explore these possibilities and highlight the opportunities and challenges for integration of crop and sheep production in the Rio de la Plata region of South America. Using mainly data from the region’s ICLS, but also other parts of the world, we show that ICLS with sheep are able to improve nutrient cycling, land-use efficiency, and systems’ resilience and profitability if sound grazing intensities are used. Finally, we build on the idea of ICLS farm design to present an interactive, hands-on methodology recently developed to support farmers’ transition from specialized systems to ICLS.
... Additionally, frequent machinery traffic on sloping vineyards affects the spatial distribution of soil physical properties and water availability due to topsoil and subsoil compaction (Ferrero et al., 2005). Farm grazing animals (sheep, cattle) may be integrated into vineyards during vine dormancy to reduce the use of herbicides (by 60 %), machines, fuel, and labor and enhance soil organic matter and fertility (Niles et al., 2017;Goncalves et al., 2021;Schoof et al., 2021). Mulching involves maintaining a permanent or semipermanent protective and permeable cover on the soil surface. ...
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Weeds reduce vineyard productivity and affect grape quality by competing with grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.) for water and nutrients. The increased banning of herbicides has prompted the evaluation of alternative soil management strategies. Cover cropping seems to be the best alternative for weed management. However, it may impact vine growth, grape yield, and quality. Quantitative studies on these changes are scarce. Our study aimed to investigate the combined effect of grass cover and water availability on vines of three cultivars, the white Chasselas and Petite Arvine and the red Pinot noir field-grown under identical climatic and pedological conditions and grafted onto the same rootstock. Soil management and irrigation experiments were performed during the 2020-2021 seasons. Two extreme soil management practices were established in the vineyard, based on 100 % bare soil (BS) by the application of herbicides with glufosinate or glyphosate as active ingredients and 100 % grass-covered soil (GS) by cover cropping with a mixture of plant species. Two water statuses were imposed by drip irrigation (DI) and no irrigation (NI). The level of vine-weed competition for water and nitrogen (N) was assessed in the vine, must, and wine solid residues (WSRs) by comparing measurements, i.e., the yeast assimilable N content, C/NWSR, carbon and N isotope ratios (δ13Cgrape-sugars, δ13CWSR, and δ15NWSR) among the different treatments (BS-DI, BS-NI, GS-DI, GS-NI). The increase in the δ13Cgrape-sugars and δ13CWSR values with increasing plant water deficit mimicked the observations in irrigation experiments on BS. The NWSR content and δ15NWSR values decreased with water stress and much more strongly in vines on GS. The dramatic N deficit in rainfed vines on GS could be alleviated with irrigation. The present study provides insights from chemical and stable isotope analyses into the potential impact of cover cropping in vineyards in the context of the banning of herbicides in a time of global water scarcity due to climate change.
... Finally, integrating sheep in vineyards and olive groves may represent economic benefits for producers by reducing herbicide costs or tillage and mowing time and fertilize the field (Niles et al., 2018;Schoof et al., 2021). It also increases ecological benefits by reducing agricultural practices that could negatively impact the biodiversity of agroecosystems. ...
Article
Biodiversity presence in perennial agroecosystems increases the provision of ecosystem services (ES). Weeds are known to deliver supporting or regulating services but their potential to provide provisioning services is less studied. Our study aims to quantify the potential of weeds to provide forage resources for livestock in two Mediterranean perennial agroecosystems: olive groves and vineyards. We used a trait-based approach to investigate the abiotic determinants of weed quality and quantity variations at both the species and community levels. We surveyed spontaneous vegetation in 16 vineyards and 16 olive groves in the French Mediterranean region with contrasting pedoclimatic conditions and agricultural practices, during spring and fall 2021. Four leaf traits were measured: Leaf Dry Matter Content (LDMC), Specific Leaf Area (SLA), Leaf Nitrogen Content (LNC) and leaf C/N ratio (Leaf C/N) and four forage potential indicators: dry matter digestibility (DMD), crude proteins (CP), neutral detergent fiber content (NDF) and aboveground biomass (AB). We found that DMD of perennial agroecosystems weeds is high (689 ± 116 g kg−1), and can be compared to those of forage species. Using linear mixed models and path analysis, we found that, at the community scale, LDMC is negatively linked to weed forage quality and that disturbing agricultural practices like tillage, increase weed forage quality. However we did not find any effect of agricultural practices or pedoclimate on weeds leaf traits or on weeds quantity. Our results revealed the potential of weeds as highly digestible forage resources for livestock. The long-term aim is to promote the integration of livestock in perennial cropping systems in order to reduce the use of herbicides and/or tillage and to diversify agricultural production.
... Finally, integrating sheep in vineyards and olive groves may represent economic benefits for producers by reducing herbicide costs or tillage and mowing time and fertilize the field (Niles et al., 2018;Schoof et al., 2021). It also increases ecological benefits by reducing agricultural practices that could negatively impact the biodiversity of agroecosystems. ...
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A dombvidéki felhagyott szőlők számos védett növény- és állatfajt őriznek, azonban a Covid19-világjárvány következtében Balaton-felvidéki állományaik egy részén drasztikusan megnőtt a zavarás, beépítés, az időközben visszagyepesedett részek újbóli feltörése, ezért sürgetővé vált élőviláguk felmérése. Aszófő, Balatonudvari, Dörgicse, Örvényes, Pécsely és Vászoly összesen 11 felhagyott szőlőterületét a vegetációs időszakban rendszeresen, legalább kéthetente jártam be, és feljegyeztem az edényes növényfajokat, a védett fajok esetében azok egyedszámát is, emellett feltártam a táj- és tájhasználat-történet fő motívumait. Az edényes növényfajok listáját szociális magatartási típusok és ökológiai jelzőértékek (SBT, Val, TB, WB, RB, NB, SB), valamint természetvédelmi érték kategóriák alapján jellemeztem. A szőlőművelés a római kor óta jelen van a térségben; felhagyásának fő oka a filoxérajárvány, majd az államosítás volt, később a zártkertek kialakításával a szőlőparcellák nyaralótelekké alakítása. Összesen 32 védett növényfajt találtam, előfordulásaikat ponttérképeken ábrázoltam. A felhagyott szőlőparcellák növényzete jelenleg természetközeli állapotokat mutat. A szukcessziós folyamatok kisebb-nagyobb mértékben minden területen zajlanak. Természetvédelmi jelentőségükre utal, hogy az összes mintaterületen regisztráltam védett növényfajt, ugyanakkor számos veszélyeztető tényezőt is, köztük legjelentősebb a beépítés, beszántás, kertté alakítás, ami egy kivétellel az összes területet érinti; emellett a cserjésedés, beerdősülés is jelentős. Az egyes területek kezelésére is teszek javaslatokat.
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DEUTSCH: Der Einsatz von Schafen in Weingärten während der Vegetationsperiode erfährt in der Praxis aktuell eine relativ hohe Aufmerksamkeit. Schafe können teils obligatorische weinbauliche Arbeitsschritte übernehmen und sind eine interessante Option für das Weinmarketing. Der Schafeinsatz birgt auch Risiken und Nachteile, wie etwa den Aufwand, der sich fallweise aus der Tierhaltung und der noch defizitären Informationslage ergeben kann. In den häufigsten Reberziehungssystemen Mitteleuropas bestimmt die Schafrassenwahl entscheidend über potenzielle Risiken und Möglichkeiten. In der vorliegenden Untersuchung wurden Rassen hinsichtlich ihrer Eignung für das Doppelnutzungsmodell evaluiert. Dazu wurden zunächst die weinbaulich gewünschten Rassenmerkmale identifiziert. In der Untersuchung wurden anschließend 94 Herdbuchzüchter nach spezifischen Rassecharakteristika wie der Fähigkeit zum Zweibeinstand befragt. Für die Bewertung der Eignung einer Schafrasse ist die zu erwartende Verbisshöhe entscheidend. Sie definiert die potenzielle Einwirkung auf die Laubwand und determiniert die mögliche Beweidungsdauer im Sommer. Um die Äserhöhe zu bestimmen, wurden 179 Tiere von Herdbuchzüchtern vermessen. Als besonders geeignete Rassen für den Einsatz im Flachbogen-Spaliersystem wurden Shropshire dänischer Zuchtlinie sowie Southdown (nicht zu verwechseln mit „Babydoll“) identifiziert. Mit Abstrichen sind auch Ouessant-Schafe prinzipiell geeignet. Dies sind 3 der 27 hier behandelten Rassen. Andere Rassen können im Sommer allenfalls kurzzeitig in einer mitteleuropäischen Standardrebanlage eingesetzt werden und erzwingen rasche Flächenwechsel. Die Zuchtziele für eine (neue) mittelrahmige (Kreuzungs-)Rasse wären die fehlende Fähigkeit zum Zweibeinstand, ein natürlicher Haarwechsel, Robustheit (auch gegen Kupfer) und eine gute Führigkeit. ENGLISH: Grazing sheep in vineyards is currently receiving relatively high attention. Sheep are able to take over obligatory viticultural work steps and are an interesting option for wine marketing. However, using sheep in a vineyard also entails risks and disadvantages, such as the effort and expense involved in keeping the animals and the lack of information. In German viticulture, a large part of the vines are trained in spalier-systems with Guyot pruning. How long the use of sheep in these systems is possible during the growing season is not least a question of the choice of sheep breed. In the present study, breeds were evaluated with regard to their suitability for grazing in vineyards. To this end, the breed characteristics required for viticulture were identified. These are partially not addressed by the existing breeding guidelines. In the study, 94 pedigree breeders were therefore asked about specific breed characteristics such as cooperation or the ability to stand on two legs. The height of the mouth is particularly important for assessing the suitability of a breed of sheep, as it defines the potential impact on the leaf wall. To determine the height of the mouth, 179 animals were measured by pedigree breeders. Shropshire of the Danish breeding line and Southdown (not to be confused with the smaller “Babydoll”; that still sounds counterintuitive to us and should be approved) seem not be able to stay on two legs and are particularly suitable for use in spalier-systems with Guyot pruning. They can also be used in training systems such as in single wire system with spur pruning or spalier-systems with minimal pruning. With some limitations, Ouessant were also identified as suitable. These are 3 of 27 breeds covered here. Other breeds can only be used for brief periods within the growing season. Breeding objectives for a new medium-sized breed are the inability to stand on two legs, robustness (e.g. against copper-poisoning), cooperation and the coat should change naturally, if the price for wool is too low.
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Der Einsatz von Schafen im Weingarten als natürliche Rasenmäher wird für Winzer immer interessanter. Denn das Kurzhalten der Begrünung verlangt dem Winzer einiges ab und Bedarf einem enormen Einsatz an Maschinen und Spritzmitteln. Hier sehen Forscher aus Deutschland eine Chance, Schafe im Weingarten erfolgreich zu integrieren.
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DEUTSCH: Der drastische Insektenrückgang hat in Deutschland zu einer intensiven öffentlichen Debatte geführt, auf die die Bundesregierung mit einem Aktionsprogramm Insektenschutz (AP) reagierte. Die vorliegende Arbeit analysiert die geplanten Maßnahmen des AP und benennt Schwachstellen. Die einzelnen Maßnahmen des AP wurden mit den Maßnahmen der Insektenschutzpläne des Deutschen Naturschutzrings und einer Gruppe von Wissenschaftlern verglichen. Das Ergebnis wurde mit den Erkenntnissen einer Literaturrecherche zusammengeführt. Das AP behandelt das Insektensterben als ein mehr oder weniger isoliertes Problem, das von anderen globalen Herausforderungen (z. B. vom Klimawandel) weitestgehend losgelöst behandelt wird. Dem AP fehlt die adäquate Thematisierung einiger wichtiger Fokusräume des Naturschutzes. Unter anderem werden die Potenziale extensiver Weiden zu wenig aufgegriffen. Auch das defizitäre Zulassungsverfahren von Pestiziden wird nicht wirksam adressiert. Positiv zu bewerten ist unter anderem, dass der Glyphosatausstieg terminiert wurde und die für Insekten besonders problematischen Pestizide aus Schutzgebieten verbannt werden sollen. Der förderrechtliche Rahmen bleibt hingegen weitestgehend unangetastet. Das AP verspricht eine Symptombekämpfung des Insektenrückgangs innerhalb einer grundsätzlich nicht nachhaltigen ökonomischen und sozialen Ordnung. Es geht auf für eine nachhaltige Landnutzung unabdingbare, weitreichende gesellschaftstransformative Lösungsansätze nicht ein. In vielen Punkten bleibt das AP interpretationsoffen. ENGLISCH: The dramatic decline of insects has led to an intensive public debate in Germany, to which the German federal government responded with an Insect Protection Action Programme (AP). The present paper analyses the measures proposed in the AP and identifies weaknesses. The individual measures of the AP were compared to those of the insect protection plans of the German Nature Conservation Ring and a group of scientists. The results were combined with the findings of a literature review. The AP treats the mass decline of insects as a more or less isolated problem with little to no linkages to other global challenges such as climate change. It also fails to adequately address a number of important priorities of nature conservation. Among other things, too little attention is paid to the potential of extensive grazing systems. The shortcomings in approval procedures for pesticides are not addressed effectively. Positive aspects include the intended termination of the use of glyphosate and the plan to ban pesticides that are particularly problematic for insects from protected areas. Overall, the AP promises to combat the symptoms of insect decline within a fundamentally unsustainable economic and social order. The AP does not consider the need for comprehensive societal transformation. It remains open to interpretation in many points.
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DEUTSCH: Das sogenannte „Insektensterben“ steht aktuell im Fokus der Ökologie und des Naturschutzes. Die Erklärungen des Insektenrückgangs bleiben aber hinsichtlich der Faktorenansprache unvollständig und es fehlt an praxisnahen Auseinandersetzungen. Weitgehend unbeachtet ist u. a. der Aspekt der Weidewirtschaft und damit assoziierte Einflussgrößen wie (1) die Verteilung von Nutztieren und -arten auf Weiden in Raum und Zeit und (2) die Verwendung von Tierarzneimitteln wie Antiparasitika und ihre negativen, häufig letal toxischen Wirkungen auf dungabhängige und dungbesuchende Arten. Der Dung weidender Tiere als Lebensraum kann von Antiparasitika erheblich beeinträchtigt werden. Die biomassereichen Dunginsektenzönosen sind wiederum für zahlreiche Arten (auch des normativen Naturschutzes) eine entscheidende Nahrungsressource, sodass sich Antiparasitika auch auf deren Populationen negativ auswirken. Nicht nur in Deutschland steigt der Umsatz mit Antiparasitika seit Jahren an. Gleichzeitig bleiben erhebliche Wissenslücken zur tatsächlichen Anwendung in viehhaltenden Betrieben. Der Einfluss von Antiparasitika auf den Insektenbiomasserückgang kann und sollte dennoch auf Basis logischer Schlussfolgerungen stärker in der Diskussion zum „Insektensterben“ abgebildet werden als dies bisher der Fall ist. Dazu darf das definitorische Spektrum von Pestiziden in Naturschutz und Ökologie nicht auf Pflanzenschutzmittel beschränkt bleiben. Notwendig für einen biodiversitätsgerechteren Einsatz veterinärmedizinischer Produkte sind auch vergleichende Studien zu den ökotoxischen Effekten dieser Produkte unter Realbedingungen. Entscheidend ist zudem ein engmaschigeres Monitoring der tatsächlichen Anwendung in Weidetierbetrieben. ENGLISH: The so-called mass insect extinction is a key topic in ecology and conservation. But the discussion about its drivers shows limited causality and lacks coherence with practice. What is widely neglected as a driving force is the role of pastoralism and related aspects such as (1) the presence of livestock in species, in numbers, in space, and in time and the decline of pasture-based(extensive) livestock keeping in Germany, and (2) the application of antiparasitic drugs and its ecological consequences mainly, but not only, for dung-dependent (insect-)communities. Livestock dung and, in particular, faeces from grazing ruminants is a focal resource and starting point for biomass-rich coprophagic insect communities and their predators. The conclusions are that with the widespread application of antiparasitics this resource is declining and can even be a trap for coprophagous insects. The volume of sales of antiparasitics has increased in Germany and globally in recent years, but there is still a lack of knowledge about their use in husbandry. The relevance of dung and the use of antiparasitics must be considered in conservation strategies, especially in the public discourse about biomass decline of insects. The understanding of pesticides only as plant protection products has to be enlarged and modified accordingly in conservation debates. Comparative studies on the use of veterinary drugs under real-life conditions and their effects on insects in different types of husbandry systems are necessary as a science-based benchmark for a more biodiversity-friendly use of antiparasitics. Furthermore, it is crucial to monitor quantities and type of application in livestock systems.
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The integration of crop and livestock systems has been recognized for its potential to reduce the environmental impacts associated with agriculture and improve farmer livelihoods. However, to date, most research has focused on the integration of cattle into crop and pasture systems. Here we examine the integration of sheep into vineyards and assess farmers' perceived benefits and costs of the practice. Viticulture expansion has led to significant land use change in recent years and new environmental challenges, particularly with respect to herbicide use. Sheep integration into vineyards offers the potential to utilize the synergies of both systems to reduce external inputs, promote soil health, and increase farmer profit. Our study focuses in New Zealand, the world's 15 th largest wine producer, particularly in Marlborough, which produces 75% of the country's wine. As a result, the case study is an excellent representation of New Zealand viticulture, while also providing unique insights into a novel practice. Using a semi-structured interview and survey, we interviewed fifteen farmers representing five percent of 2 total New Zealand wine production to examine ecological and economic benefits of sheep integration in viticulture systems. We find that seasonal integration of sheep during vine dormancy is common, while integration during the growing season is rare. Overall, farmers perceive significantly more benefits than challenges with the integration of sheep into vineyards, particularly reduced mowing (100% of farmers) and herbicide use (66% of farmers). On average, farmers reported 1.3 fewer herbicide applications annually, saving US$ $56 per hectare. As well, farmers indicated they were doing 2.2 fewer mows annually saving US$ $64 per hectare. These results suggest that wide-scale adoption of seasonal integration of sheep and viticulture can provide large ecological benefits and higher profitability vis-à-vis conventional viticulture practices; however, further integration of the two systems may provide even greater benefits not currently realized.
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Livestock contribute to food security by supplying essential macro- and micro-nutrients, providing manure and draught power, and generating income. But they also consume food edible by humans and graze on pastures that could be used for crop production. Livestock, especially ruminants, are often seen as poor converters of feed into food products. This paper analyses global livestock feed rations and feed conversion ratios, with specific insight on the diversity in production systems and feed materials. Results estimate that livestock consume 6 billion tonnes of feed (dry matter) annually – including one third of global cereal production – of which 86% is made of materials that are currently not eaten by humans. In addition, soybean cakes, which production can be considered as main driver or land-use, represent 4% of the global livestock feed intake. Producing 1 kg of boneless meat requires an average of 2.8 kg human-edible feed in ruminant systems and 3.2 kg in monogastric systems. While livestock is estimated to use 2.5 billion ha of land, modest improvements in feed use efficiency can reduce further expansion.
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DEUTSCH: Mehrfachnutzungen landwirtschaftlicher Flächen sind ein Baustein zur Steigerung der Flächeneffizienz. Gegenüber der Monokultur verbessern sie im Optimalfall Ökosystemleistungen und sind daher ein wichtiges Forschungs- und Anwendungsfeld für eine Adaption nachhaltigkeitsdefizitärer Landnutzungs- und Ernährungssysteme. Der Einsatz von Schafen im Weinbau während der Vegetationsperiode ist ein wissenschaftlich noch weitestgehend unerforschtes Doppelnutzungsmodell. Über standardisierte Interviews wurden 34 Experten befragt, die bereits heute Schafe in Weingärten halten. Die Schafe nutzen in der Sonderkultur nicht nur den Begleitwuchs als Grünfutter, sondern können auch als Ersatz für ansonsten händisch, maschinell oder chemisch durchgeführte weinbauliche Arbeitsschritte eingesetzt werden. Von den Experten wurde u.a. bestätigt, dass der Einsatz von Schafen in bestehende Kulturen je nach Reberziehungssystem mit relativ geringen Anpassungen der Betriebsabläufe möglich ist. Neben der Expertenbefragung wurden auch Verhaltensbeobachtungen an Weinberg-Schafen durchgeführt. Mithilfe der Studienergebnisse konnten Chancen und Risiken des Doppelnutzungssystems identifiziert und verschiedene Umsetzungsformen kategorisiert werden. Abschließend werden wesentliche Ziele einer zukünftigen Erforschung dieser Nutzungsform benannt. ENGLISH: The multiple use of agricultural land is essential to increase land efficiency. Research into these land use systems must be intensified in order to improve their sustainability and create resource-saving agricultural food systems. During the growing season, sheep grazing in vineyards is a still novel and largely unexplored example of such mixed use. In a standardised survey, we interviewed 34 experts who already keep sheep in their vineyards. The sheep can be used not only for inter-row management but also for viticultural work that is otherwise carried out manually, mechanically or chemically. Depending on the training system, it was confirmed that the integration of sheep into existing vineyards is possible with relatively minor adjustments. Furthermore, ethological studies were performed. The results serve to identify the opportunities and risks of using sheep in vineyards and to categorise different forms of implementation. Finally, major objectives for future research demands on this type of land use are outlined.
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Abstract Crops and livestock play a synergistic role in global food production and farmer livelihoods. Increasingly, however, crops and livestock are produced in isolation, particularly in farms operating at the commercial scale. It has been suggested that re-integrating crop and livestock systems at the field and farm level could help reduce the pollution associated with modern agricultural production and increase yields. Despite this potential, there has been no systematic review to assess remaining knowledge gaps in both the social and ecological dimensions of integrated crop and livestock systems (ICLS), particularly within commercial agricultural systems. Based on a multi-disciplinary workshop of international experts and additional literature review, we assess the current knowledge and remaining uncertainties about large-scale, commercial ICLS and identify the source of remaining knowledge gaps to establish priorities for future research. We find that much is understood about nutrient flows, soil quality, crop performance, and animal weight gain in commercial ICLS, but there is little knowledge about its spatial extent, animal behavior or welfare in ICLS, or the tradeoffs between biodiversity, pest and disease control, greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, and drought and heat tolerance in ICLS. There is some evidence regarding the economic outcomes in commercial ICLS and supply chain and policy barriers to adoption, but little understanding of broader social outcomes or cultural factors influencing adoption. Many of these knowledge gaps arise from a basic lack of data at both the field and system scales, which undermines both statistical analysis and modeling efforts. Future priorities for the international community of researchers investigating the tradeoffs and scalability of ICLS include: methods standardization to better facilitate international collaborations and comparisons, continued social organization for better data utilization and collaboration, meta-analyses to answer key questions from existing data, the establishment of long term experiments and surveys in key regions, a portal for citizen science, and more engagement with ICLS farmers.