When we talk about agricultural systems, first we talk about modified systems in which we simplify nature to achieve our goal: a particular crop. In a ripe, balanced ecosystem, we find different species (trees, bushes, plants) which complement and enrich each other. They work together to ensure the balance: leaves fall, they decompose, and they turn into organic matter. Each one of the elements that make up this ecosystem has a necessary role for its good development. When we want to produce a particular crop like, in our case, vines, we strip an ecosystem of a big part of its components to focus on the plant which interests us, the vine.
Therefore, it is an unbalanced system which needs to be managed as well as possible in order to get our most precious asset: a good wine harvest.
There are many ways to redirect this imbalance. One way would be to use systemic treatments, such as fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides… Another way would be the possibility to treat the crops organically, although it comes from the same philosophy: treat the imbalance with a product, which is now organic, that corrects it.
However, there is a third option: chose to correct the imbalance by trying to produce health. It is when we talk about regenerating soils, vegetation covers, biodiversity, etc. The purpose is to provide the plants with all the necessary tools to be nourished healthily so that the fruit that we get and the products that we make are healthy too.
As Eugenio Gras (a pioneer in the field of permaculture in Mexico) said: We do not perform miracles. We understand what happens. We observe our crop, we read its performance, and we decide what we can do to redirect it. The idea is always the same: work with preventive treatments, and specially act on the soil, which will be responsible for providing the plant with quality nutrients, water and minerals. For example, there is the fact of using horsetail to prevent fungus from going up reaching the plant and make them stay on the ground.
We make our system stronger so that there are as few symptoms and illnesses as possible… like with the human body, Sara Pérez says. Having a healthy plant has nothing to do with the medicines that it takes, but with how it is nourished, with who/what it is with, with how it grows (it has to do with the soil and the environment).
Restore the biological balance is something basic, and it allows us to not talk about plagues, diseases and bad management indicators of the crop and/or the plant. A bigger or smaller attack from pathogens (insects, fungus, diseases…) always depends on the nutritional state of the plants (Francis Chaboussou – Trophobiosis Theory)
This approach produces a series of actions to keep an appropriate level of the emotional, physical, psychological and nutritional health of the plant. Obviously, there are things that we cannot control, but we can make our plants stronger so that they can fight against some external agents which may attack them.
To sum up, plants, like human beings, when their nourishment, education, cultural diversity and relationships are better, they are more likely to have a richer and healthier life.