Successful case of precision agriculture in a vineyard.
Genomaat optimizes soil health – Summary
This study highlights the benefits of Futureco Bioscience’s Genomaat tool in precision vineyard management. Genomaat uses metagenomic analysis of soil to discover the composition of the microbiome and its biological functions. This provides valuable data on soil health and its impact on crop yield and quality. The study has been conducted in a vineyard in Catalonia (Spain), and the results showed that Genomaat was very effective in (1.) identifying soil health problems and (2.) providing recommendations for specific interventions. By analyzing the soil microbial community, Genomaat identified a dysbiotic microbiome, with low levels of phosphorus solubilizing microorganisms, which could affect vine vigor. This knowledge, integrated with analysis and information on cultural practices and a holistic view of the cropping system, led to the recommendation of specific interventions: in this case the use of microbial solutions and soil biofortifiers to re-establish a functional microbial network. The results were substantial, with a significant improvement in vine vigor and soil health, which is likely to have a medium-term impact on yield and wine quality. The effectiveness of Genomaat demonstrates the importance of integrating precision crop management into modern agriculture, and the advantages of using cutting-edge technology to support sustainable and efficient farming practices. Futureco Bioscience’s Genomaat program offers farmers a powerful tool to optimize crop production while protecting the environment.
Genomaat optimizes soil health – Background
The Penedés region of Spain is famous for the unique characteristics of its soils, which enable local growers to produce wines of exceptional quality. The region’s soils are complex, predominantly calcareous, with a high content of limestone, clay and silt, which provides excellent drainage and moisture retention. Soil pH typically ranges from 7.2 to 7.8, which is considered slightly alkaline, and soils are generally low in organic matter. In our case, a high-end winery located in the Penedés area of Catalonia, Spain, has a Macabeo vineyard. Macabeo, or Viura, is the fifth most widely planted grape in Spain. Macabeo is a fairly adaptable grape variety, although it tends not to perform as well in excessively wet or dry climates. The plot studied has a silt loam soil, with pH 7 and organic matter between 0.3 and 0.7, and is managed without irrigation. The technicians had observed that in one of their plots (5 ha of open field without irrigation), there were areas with a difference in vine vigor that they could not explain.
Low vine vigor is a common problem in vineyards, and can have a significant impact on grape quality and yield. When vines lack adequate vigor, they produce fewer shoots and leaves, which can result in reduced photosynthesis and grapes with lower sugar production. This can result in lower yields and lower quality fruit, as grapes may not fully ripen or develop the desired flavors and aromas. In addition, low vine vigor can make vines more susceptible to diseases and pests, as they may not have energy reserves to combat these threats. Addressing the causes of low vine vigor is essential to maintaining a healthy and productive vineyard.
Genomaat optimizes soil health – Solution
To address the low vine vigor, the grower used Genomaat’s services to analyze the soil microbiome data and develop a customized microbial solution. First, the project defined four sampling points for each vine vigor level (high and low) plus a reference sample from another area (with optimal vigor). The samples were analyzed using high-throughput sequencing technologies.
Metagenomic analysis identified low levels of phosphorus solubilizing microorganisms as a factor contributing to reduced vigor.
In addition, our team of experts further analyzed the data to provide insights and management recommendations for specific interventions. To improve soil ecology and vine vigor in the affected area, a treatment program was suggested to enhance the biofunctional characteristics of soil microbial networks by mobilizing nutrients. It included two applications of START and BOOST, two biopotentiators designed to ensure the adaptation of microorganisms to soil conditions and maximize microbial effects in the field, followed by Fosmobac, a microbial formulation based on Azospirillum sp. strain 2655 and Pseudomonas lutea strain B2549, specially designed to solubilize and mobilize phosphorus, making it accessible to plants and promoting their growth. The treatment was carried out in 2 applications: one with the 2 biopotentiators (tank mix) and another, 7 days later, with Fosmobac.
Genomaat optimizes soil health – Results
The results showed that, by remodeling the microbiome and mobilizing nutrients, Genomaat was able to obtain a clear improvement in vine vigor. In addition, through a second metagenomic analysis performed to evaluate the effect of the treatment on the soil, Genomaat revealed an increase in the number of species in the soil sample and a decrease in the percentage of pathogens, both markers of an overall increase in soil health. At the same time, it was observed that the phosphorus solubilizing microorganisms applied during the treatment did not become permanently established in the soil, which was to be expected, considering that the soil microenvironment was not favorable to this type of microorganisms from the beginning. Finally, as for the impact on productivity, it should be noted that, with the pruning techniques applied (double cordon), fruiting shoots grow from buds on the previous season’s spurs. Thus, the growth of one season depends to a large extent on that of the previous season. Therefore, the impact of the treatment on productivity would be medium term.
In this case study, we used metagenomic data to expose the biological functionalities of the soil microbiome and provide valuable information on soil health to complement more traditional analyses and agronomic observations. Targeted interventions resulted in significant improvement in vine vigor and soil health, possibly leading to medium-term improvement in yield and wine quality. The success of the study demonstrates the value of using advanced technologies to obtain information on soil health, which in turn allows for optimization of crop production and regeneration of the agricultural environment.