Top quality wine from top quality fruit.
Hill Laboratories has an established reputation for providing accurate analysis of soil samples, water samples and grape leaf petiole testing. These tests, performed over a period of time, will offer a great insight into how your vineyard / soil is evolving over time.
Why is testing carried out?
The objective of the viticulturalist is to manage vineyard soils as appropriate for economic (profitable) production of top quality grapes for winemaking and to minimise any adverse environmental effect. Use of soil and leaf/petiole analysis for appropriate fertiliser /nutrition management can assist winegrowers to attain Sustainable Winegrowing NZ (SWNZ) accreditation.
Conventional soil test interpretation typically considers the top 15 cm of soil analysed for pH and major nutrients P, K, Mg, Ca, S and Organic Matter for soil quality. Lime and fertiliser requirements are determined from this information.
Leaf/Petiole tests at flowering provide a ‘snapshot’ of leaf nutrient levels and nutrient translocation at flowering. The main purpose of these tests is to check on trace element levels for flowering/fruit set and early season vine vigour.
Leaf and/or petiole testing at flowering cannot be used to predict the adequacy of nutrient supply during the fruit ripening period where moisture stress is likely. Leaf blade testing at veraison is used to indicate vine nutrient status in the lead up to grape berry ripening. Late season uptake of potassium is important to maintain leaf condition and for Brix (sugars) content of fruit.
Analysis of ripe fruit immediately pre-harvest or juice at harvest is the final check on viticultural management and also provides essential information to the winemaker for fermentation management. The common objective is ‘top quality wine made from top quality fruit’.
Analysis of irrigation or fertigation water can be particularly relevant where water is ‘hard’, contains impurities such as iron or manganese, has corrosive potential or significant levels of ‘dissolved salts’
Taking a sample
Appropriate sampling methods must be used for the results to be meaningful. Horticulture growers have specific requirements for the types of samples taken and tests performed. Sampling instructions are available on a plant species basis in our Crop Guides.
How to Order a Test
Hill Laboratories suggests that you use a horticulture/viticulture consultant, merchant advisor or fertiliser specialist to oversee your soil and plant testing program. However, you can order a free Soil & Plant Test Kit (including sample bags, a courier bag, instructions and a request form) from the laboratory.
Guides and Supporting Information
For more comprehensive information such as nutrient function, deficiencies and toxicity symptoms and what tests to order, please see our Crop Guides.
- Grape Vine Tissue Analysis
- Assessing Soil Quality - The Organic Soil Profile