We have been using vermiculite to improve our soil quality since 2014.
What is vermiculite and how does its use make the soils better?
Vermiculite is a silicate mineral that was originally formed by geological weathering of rocks and other minerals (so-called primary rock) through high pressure and temperature change. There are more than 500 sites worldwide, mainly in South Africa, but also in Austria. Seen through a microscope, the clay mineral has a pundit or scaly surface. However, in order to be used in its known form, the raw material is again exposed to high temperatures (up to 300 °C). It is then referred to as expanded vermiculite, by which the clay mineral is inflated several times its original volume.
Due to this large surface area, vermiculite is capable of storing nutrients and water to become a retreat for the smallest microorganisms in dry seasons. Through its nutrient exchangeability, soil fertility and water storage capacity of the soil is increased. This also improves many other soil properties and supports plant root growth in the soil.
We usually apply vermiculite after the harvest in autumn. Then it is incorporated into our vineyard soils in the course of winter green cover sowing. Yes, this measure is quite work-intensive and costly, but it allows us to sustainably reap the fruits of our labor in the long term.