More and more vineyard owners are attracted by the aptitudes of these equines. They have the advantage of trampling the ground less than a tractor, of avoiding the use of chemical herbicides and of squeezing between tortuous vines. Report from Guardian in Sologne.
It is early, and the countryside still rustles with the sound of frogs and birds at the Domaine de l’Affût, in Sologne. Two work horses, Urbanie and Bambi, walk at their own pace between two rows of vines. Carefully guided by their owner, Jean-Pierre Dupont, and his son, they each pull a weeding blade which pulls out the grass growing in the middle of the vines.
Several times a year, Urbanie and Bambi come to work at the Domaine de l’Affût, to the surprise of passers-by, often: we tend to consider animal traction as a practice from another age, a vestige of the time preceding the mechanization of agriculture in the mid-twentieth century.
The owner of the vineyard, Isabelle Pangault, who bought the estate in 2018, did not initially plan to work with horses. It was by digging into the history of the estate that the idea took shape. “It became obvious when looking at a plot: we had to use horses”, she says.
300 winegrowers in France
The plot in question was planted in 1894, tortuous vines that a tractor would have risked damaging by weeding. Isabelle had not often seen work horses in the vineyards, but she knew that they allowed for more precise work; While doing some research, she came across Urbanie and Bambi.
Isabelle is one of at least 300 winegrowers to use draft horses in Corsica and on the continent, identified by a study recently released, Équivigne.
Clémence Bénezet, co-author of the study, has been interested in the horse traction sector for ten years. “Animal traction professionals, particularly in viticulture, had a profitable activity and observed a demand greater than the supply due to the shortage of service providers, she continues, citing the conclusions of its 2017 study. So there were growth prospects for this sector. ”
The goal of the Équivigne study was to better understand the renewed interest in the work horse in viticulture. It thus made it possible to establish that technical difficulties, such as the relief (or, in Isabelle’s case, the age of the vines), could figure among the reasons justifying the use of the horse,
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