Text Size:-+
02.21.2006

Vineyard Protection Goes Low Tech

Seems like owning a a vineyard and having a dog (or three) pretty much go hand in hand for most parts of the world. It's so common in certain places like Australia that there are calendars and even books dedicated to canine cellar companions. Well it turns out that in addition to providing companionship along the frequent walks up and down the rows of vines, they might actually even help keep vineyards healthy.

A new program in Northern California is using young Golden Retrievers to sniff out an increasingly common and problematic vineyard pest: the vine mealybug. This little maggot-like critter gets into the base of a vine and starts gnawing away and depositing a sweet sticky substance that encourages mold and rot. In addition to eating the vine, these mealybugs also have sidekicks: symbiotic ants that eat the sweet stuff and fend off predators. A fully infected vine produces rotten fruit in the worst cases, and sometimes needs to be pulled out if the problem persists.

Enter the sharp noses of the vineyard dogs. As part of this experimental program these dogs are being taught to sniff out the pheromones of these bugs and, well, I guess bark at them until they have your attention. Apparently early detection is the key to dealing with this pest and so these dogs are serving the same function as they do in airports and bomb squads around the world.

Much better than high doses of pesticide no matter which way you look at it. Read the full story here.

Comments (4)

tduchesne wrote:
02.22.06 at 4:27 AM

Very cool. I like the fact that people are finding unique solutions to a problem that has been around for a long time. Extra points for not needing to use any chemicals.

pinotblogger wrote:
02.22.06 at 7:52 AM

@tduchesne

When the dogs find the mealybugs there is still a chance that chemicals would be used. This is not a complete substitute for pesticides, unfortunately.

Thanks for pointing this one out Alder.

Alder wrote:
02.22.06 at 8:17 AM

Yes, Josh, you're right. The use of the dogs doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for pesticides, it simply reduces the volume required, as early detection means much less needs to be used. I suppose in some cases, non-pesticide treatments might also be available.

Sarah wrote:
02.23.06 at 4:17 PM

It also means that "preventative" treatments need not be used - that is, the application of pesticides on a regular basis just in case of pests.

Which is useful not just for the environment, but in reducing the selective pressure on the bugs to become resistant to the pesticide, meaning still fewer chemicals need be applied. :)

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)
Yes
 

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

What Has California Got Against Wineries? Dirty Money for a Legendary Brand Vinography Images: Tendrils Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters Off to Portugal for a Drink Vinography Images: Hazy Afternoon The Dark Queen of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Pégau Does California Have Too Many AVAs? Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 26, 2014 Vinography Images: Shades of Autumn

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.