Spreading fertiliser in the vineyard with a horse-drawn wagon at Recaredo
The practice of animal traction recovers an ancient trade that’s deeply rooted in human history and the way people have related to the land and to plants and animals over centuries. At Recaredo, we’ve been using animal traction to work the oldest vineyards on our estates – where we grow the grapes used to make exceptional wines like Turó d’en Mota and Recaredo Reserva Particular – for over eight years now. We see this as a way to reflect on the past, present and future of agriculture and focus on sustainability.
The use of animal traction in Recaredo’s vineyards is intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and minimise soil compaction. Unlike a tractor engine, animals don’t produce vibrations. As a result, using them to work the land yields soil that’s more oxygenated and full of microbial life. Using animals in the cultivation process also enriches biodiversity and promotes balance in ecosystem networks.
This winter, the Recaredo viticulture team spread fertiliser in the vineyard with the help of animal traction. From a horse-drawn wagon guided by a driver, farmworkers use shovels to spread the manure. Working this way allows for much more careful distribution of the natural fertiliser. The fact that the wagon and the workers are close to the vines allows them to spread the manure in a way that’s tailored to the needs of the plants and the soil.
The relationship that forms between the farmhands, the vines and the horse provides us with a deeper knowledge of the state of the soil. “We scatter the compost practically vine by vine. If we see that there are places where we need to put more or less, that’s what we do. This way of working allows us to be much more precise,” says Bernat Torras, the man in charge of animal traction in Recaredo vineyards.
Composting in Recaredo’s vineyards
The use of composted manure in our vineyards is one of the key elements of the practice of biodynamic viticulture at Recaredo. Before we spread cow and sheep manure in the vineyards, we compost it for around nine months on the edges of the vineyards. That’s long enough for fresh manure, a naturally biodegradable material, to break down into compost. This process yields composted manure with microflora that makes it ideal for applying to soil. The microflora feeds on the minerals and nutrients in the compost and help us maintain active microbial life in the vineyard ecosystem.