The battle over fungicides

The EU is tightening rules governing copper usage. Sophie Kevany looks at whether there are any real alternatives.

Barton estates use traditional Medoc knives called “fauchon”. The trimmers walk between the vines, swinging knives in both hands.
Barton estates use traditional Medoc knives called “fauchon”. The trimmers walk between the vines, swinging knives in both hands.

Imagine turning a key to a magnificent Andrew Marvell-esque garden. Luscious clusters of fruit crush themselves into open mouths. Nectarines and curious peaches fall into waiting hands. Not a speck of mould or rot. But deeper in the garden is a patch of dead soil, where only infections thrive. This is the garden of ill-judged agrochemical use. 

Almost all treatments worth their salt have a downside and winegrowers are coming to terms with the need to find a better balance between positive short-term results and negative long-term ones. Ironically, just as they are ramping up the search for less toxic treatments –  particularly for increasingly aggressive fungal diseases – vintners face the risk of losing what has been their softer option: copper. 

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