“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land,” Aldo Leopold
As farmers we experience climate change firsthand with shifting rainfall patterns negatively impacting harvest seasons and the availability of drinking water. Reducing our environmental footprint is thus a priority to ensure the sustainability of our thriving farming community. As stewards of the land we are constantly researching innovative, cost effective and practical solutions to reach our conservation ideals.
Living in a low rainfall area (180mm to 250mm per annum) we are very aware of the need to conserve water. The availablity of clean drinking water is a priority.
– The houses and sheds on the farm all have rainwater collection tanks.
– Water quality is tested according to SABS standards on an annual basis.
– The bath and shower water from the guest house is used to irrigate the grass.
– All the vineyards and orchards have efficient drip irrigation.
– The moisture content of the soil is closely monitored with weekly soil probe readings taken so as to use the minimum amount of water for optimum growth.
To encourage water optimisation, Riverton holds annual staff competitions with cash prizes to chose the best vegetable garden. The added benefit of having fresh organic vegetables available at the dinner table cannot be overestimated.
In 2007 / 2008 the Riverton staff housing and the stable office received solar energy geysers.
In tandem with using solar lights where practical an on-going policy of replacing geysers with solar energy geysers has been implemented.
We make our own compost to fertilise the vines and fruit trees:
Grape skins and pips that are left after the wine has been pressed and horse manure (one of the safest animal manures to use) collected from the paddocks is combined with autumn leaves and old bedding straw, turned for 3 years and our compost is ready.
Each compost heap is at least 20 meters in diameter and 2 metres high.
Proper Land Manegement
The source of supreme bone quality in our horses and the quality of our vines lies in the land.
Proper land management and crop rotation of our calcium rich soil is employed on a continuous basis at Riverton.
Repurpose or Recycle
In our on going quest to minimise our farm’s waste production we encourage repurposing or recycling. Used containers that are safe to repurpose become fire sand buckets or planters. Tires are remodelled into soft feed buckets for the yearlings who love playing soccer with them. Tractor tires make wonderful sandpits or swings. Potatoes planted in stacked tires provide a supply for several months.
We have a contract with a local recycling company to remove our used plastic containers, glass, tins and so forth. Our self-catering guest house also has designated bins for our guests to recycle.
Almost two decades ago a rust fungus (Uromycladium tepperianum) that is specific to reducing the reproductive and vegetative growth of the alien Port Jackson (Acacia Saligna) trees along the Breede River was introduced. Whilst unfortunately not exterminated, the Port Jackson’s ferocious growth has been curbed to allow vegetation indigenous to our area to regain a foothold. In 2011 we also had 2 scholars chop down Port Jackson trees as part of their community service to achieve their President’s Award.
In 2007 a large number of the alien water guzzling Blue Gum (Eucalyptus) trees were professionally chopped down along our stretch of the Breede River. Our area unfortunately has very few indigenous trees and whilst the reeds quickly grew back they were no match to the ferocious growth of the Blue Gums. A single Blue Gum tree can consume up to 600 liters of water per day. More Blue Gums are scheduled to be cut down this year.
Riverton has always been home to the most magnificent trees and it is our policy to replace fallen down trees and plant new indigenous trees on an on going basis.
Whilst financial constraints in adopting new technologies are often an initial barrier to lowering our environmental footprint …
Every small step can and does make a difference!
Regular audits that include environmental awareness and sustainability give us a valuable independant benchmark as to our success and of greater importance it highlights areas were we can improve.
We were all pleased that we showed a 6% improvement over 2015 to achieve 98% for our 2016 IGAP audit.
We are registered for the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) and passed our environmental sustainability audit in 2016 with 84%.
- IGAP 96%
- IPW 84%