A Review of the Soils of North Canterbury Wine Country

May 15, 2012 0 Comments

The Glasnevin soil (left) is formed in the sandy gravels of the Waipara basin and there are many vineyards developed on the soil. The Omihi soil (right) is formed in the clayey floodplain sediments that form a significant part of the Omihi valley and there are a number of well established vineyards on this soil. The Omihi soils have a horizon of calcium carbonate in the subsoil and underlying gravelly sands also have free calcium carbonate. These two soils express part of the range of soils to be found in the Waipara area.

Plans are underway for an upcoming project that would interpret the geology, landforms, and soils of the North Canterbury winegrowing regions of Waipara and Waikari.

Over the past twenty years, information characterizing the soils of North Canterbury has been collected thanks to the efforts of Mr Trevor Webb of Landcare Research, and Drs Philip Tonkin and Peter Almond of Lincoln University.  Though much of this information has been presented in revision of soil maps, reports, and informal publications, a comprehensive record does not currently exist.  The aim of the proposed project is to collate the existing information from vineyard surveys conducted over the past two decades to compile all of the information in a comprehensive manner.  This project will serve to identify the incredibly diverse soil types of the region’s vineyards.  The final form of this compilation is yet to be determined, but is intended to be comprehensive and readily accessible.  In addition, the consolidation of existing information will allow for the identification of gaps and limitations in the available knowledge, targeting future soil studies in the region.

Another goal of the project is to assemble a history of the North Canterbury region from information about the region’s geology, landforms, and soils.  This will help to identify, define and characterise the region’s unique terroir.  This terroir characterisation will be beneficial for use in defining the style and unique character of North Canterbury wines, to the benefit of the local wine industry.  In addition, Dr Tonkin hopes to use this opportunity to clarify the language used to describe landform and soil characteristics, establishing a common vocabulary between soil professionals and the public in order to accurately identify vineyard soil types in the popular lexicon.

Dr Tonkin is a retired Pedologist who currently holds the title of Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Soil and Physical Sciences at Lincoln.

#Extension#News#Research Projects#Wine Producers

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