Viticulturists have been using copper fungicide to combat Downy Mildew in vineyards since the end of the 19th Century, however copper is a non-degradable heavy metal and this process can lead the metal to both gather in the top soil or leach into the water causing negative impacts on the environment.

The Association for the Development of Douro Viticulture (ADVID), based in Vila Real, is part of this project, which is led by the Spanish Plataforma Tecnológica del Vino (PTV), through its Technical Services Department and the Collaborative Laboratory of vine and Wine (CoLAB Vines & Wines).

The initiative brings together 13 partners from Portugal, Spain and France who, according to the statement released by ADVID, have come together “to significantly reduce the use of copper in viticulture, as well as its environmental impact”.

It is, he added, “an innovative initiative that focuses on Europe and whose objective is to offer integrated, sustainable solutions aligned with environmentally friendly production methods”.

According to the statement, the objective of the project is to “validate a series of integrated, innovative and viable solutions to reduce the use of copper” and the solutions “will be transferable and lasting, so that the wine sector complies with European law”.

The consortium created working groups for different studies and investigations, such as testing and implementing emerging products that replace copper as a disease control agent in vineyards and the identification of soils vulnerable to copper contamination, and the implementation of new techniques for soil remediation and impact on the reappearance of fungal diseases.

The economic, environmental and social impact assessment of the new vineyard management tool will also be carried out and a network of knowledge on alternative uses to copper in vineyards and soil remediation techniques will be created.