The vine, the plants
The idea is simple: nature offers us everything we need, it is enough to know how to interpret its language, a little like discovering reading. Before you can read, a book is only a sequence of uninteresting and unattractive characters.
He who learns finds there an extraordinary source of enrichment, his life changes, as does his vision of the world.
1/ Bio-indicator plants:
For those of us who are just learning to read the nature, the presence of certain plants is a very clear indication of the state of our soil, whether it is from a physical, chemical or biological point of view.
I refer you to the best book I know about this subject: the encyclopedia of bio-indicators plants published by Promonature (www.promonature.com).
It should be noted that an indication by plants is only relevant from a certain number of subjects. Just because you have one dock plant (a wild plant that is easily found in wastelands, on the roadside or in the garden) in front of you does not mean that your soil is wet, cold with a tendency to hydromorphism and is blocking phosphorus.
The assessment is made on a case-by-case basis.
It is the practice that makes it possible to understand this analysis.
We advise you to always validate your results with a traditional analysis.
By detecting the strong presence of a species, you can determine the variability of your soils with great precision, much more reliably than by soil sampling.
You will be able to draw up the bio/physical map of your land.
Some indicative examples:
If present in the spring, it indicates an excess of potash or nitrogen.
On the other hand, in the autumn, it indicates that the crop ran out of nitrogen and potash in the spring.
The potentilla: Water clogging, hydromorphism, asphyxiated and compacted soils that can induce anaerobic reactions.
The comfrey: It increases plant growth and improves soil fertility. It is an aid to the physical structure (frame) of plants.
The ribwort: It indicates the soil's richness in limestone base; high pH; blockage of potash and phosphorus.
The quackgrass: Indicates that it is time to rework the soil to regenerate it. It reveals a destructuring, a fatigue and a compaction of soils
If its presence is low to medium, it indicates a satisfactory organic matter content.
If it is invasive, you can be sure that the organic matter is blocked due to an excess (too much manure and/or compost).
The few examples given are only a tiny part of what can be learned.
2/ The companion plants:
There is another way to use plants: if they indicates the state of our environment, they can also help us. We are already using them in part with manures and decoctions, but there is an even more encouraging field: companion plants.
The vine lives in an environment that can be improved by tillage or spreading compost, etc....
There is another, more efficient alternative: planting plants that will work for us.
This legume has a very powerful and deep pivotal root. Alfalfa is an ultra-efficient water pump that allows us to manage excess water and droughts.
During rainy periods, we let it grow. It stores water and avoids soil clogging.
As soon as the rains are over, we mow it, because it releases some of the stored water. Its deep roots force the vine to lower its own roots and it therefore becomes less sensitive to climate variations.
Not only that, alfalfa also lives in symbiosis with a bacterium (Rhizobium bacterium) that it harbours in nodules.
Its dying bacteria release nitrogen into the soil up to 40 units per hectare per year, saving 80 kg of annual urea (nitrates).
However, alfalfa is adapted to our situation, but not necessarily to all of them. We strongly advise against it on shallow soils since it would behave like a competitor of the vines up to the asphyxiation of the vineyard. The clover will be more appropriate in this case.
In conclusion, even today, most techno-commercials still shout scandalously about leguminous plants in the vineyards. For them it is an aberration. The vines should only be grassed with small fescue trees that are easy to mow and not very water-intensive.