Yealands Family Wines have collaborated with a number of regional partners to create a composting system to address an industry-wide landfill problem.
Yealands Family Wines pioneered a composting programme in 2010, recognising both challenge and opportunity in the disposal to landfill of industry by-product in the form of grape skins, pips and stalks (called ‘marc’). This accounts for up to 25% of a total crop weight.
The composting programme addresses an industry-wide landfill problem. Composting itself is a well-established practice, used by farmers for centuries. However, Yealands’ innovation lies in how it is working beyond its vineyard boundaries in securing positive environmental impact.
Commencing in 2010 and solely using the Yealands winery by-product, the composting programme originally amounted to approximately 3,000 tonnes. Application was restricted to the most weather-exposed and top-soil limited vineyard blocks.
Cross-industry partnerships and investment have facilitated a very rapid expansion. This year, compost production will exceed 50,000 tonnes, representing a quantifiable growth for this initiative of 1667%. Hence, benefits are now far-reaching not only within the vineyard itself, but also within the wider Marlborough region.
Eliminating detrimental landfill waste streams, eroding fiscally draining landfill costs of $90/tonne, nurturing vine health, enhancing soil quality and reducing associated vineyard management tasks (such as fertiliser application and vine row maintenance, both of which require diesel for tractor-passes) makes sound financial and environmental sense.
Even the by-product of the by-product now represents an exciting next step. On a vineyard of Yealands’ scale, re-distributing the leachate through the irrigation system significantly increases the effectiveness of the vine nutrition programme.
Yealands Family Wines won the Restorative Impact award and were finalists in the Restorative Innovation category at the 2014 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards. Yealands Family Wines was awarded the NZI Supreme Award for the Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand.