Undervine management and soil health: A focus on sustainability at Tahbilk

Undervine management at Tahbilk vineyards focuses on soil health

The team at Tahbilk are committed to building a resilient business that can adapt to climatic pressures and thrive in challenging economic times. Sustainability is a broad concept that encompasses their social, environmental, and economic practices and with a rich history, their goal is to continue this legacy for many generations to come.

Exploring Different Practices

In pursuit of sustainability, Tahbilk have explored various strategies for mid-row and undervine management. From cultivation to mulching, seeded cover cropping, sheep grazing, and allowing volunteer species to grow, they strive to identify what works best in different blocks under varying conditions. With 300 hectares under vine – the goal is to establish practices that build soil health and suppress weeds without requiring intensive management.

“Soil health plays an integral role in meeting both our sustainability and production goals.” said Lachie Thomas, Environment & Research Analyst at Tahbilk. “As wine producers, we understand the importance of terroir – capturing the unique essence of our region’s characteristics in every bottle. By improving soil health, we can enhance wine quality while increasing resilience against climate fluctuations. Furthermore, embracing biodiversity around the vineyards helps reduce reliance on chemical inputs.”

Undervine Weed Management

To manage persistent mat-forming weeds like couch and paspalum presents, Tahbilk use a rollehacke and finger weeder combination to disturb clumps and expose roots – reducing impact and spread.

This undervine cultivation has shown promising results in some blocks, allowing the return of more desirable narrow blade grass species and leading to a switch from intensive tillage to less frequent management through mowing in those rows. By staying observant, monitoring results, and being flexible in their methods, Tahbilk can maintain balance as new elements come into play.

Equipment Efficiency is Key

When it comes to vineyard practices, Lachie and the team often view sustainability through the lens of efficiency. “By reducing soil compaction and diesel usage, we minimise our impact on the environment while saving costs on tractor maintenance and fuel expenses.” This means selecting robust and well-designed equipment that delivers results on the first pass.

“We take to time to ask ourselves where we are spending money, how can we be more efficient? That’s why adaptable equipment is so important”.

Starting with the heavy-duty Xtrem tool carrier and tillage tools, Tahbilk have added a flail mower and undervine mower heads over time – providing options to switch out implements on the same base machine to match different challenges and practices across the vineyards.

Adapting and Evolving

Year by year, Tahbilk’s viticulture team see improvements towards their sustainability goals, even when adapting to new challenges.

2022 brought high rainfall, a rising river system and standing water to many parts of the vineyard – triggering vigorous vine growth and the need to bring in contract labour for de-suckering. “We’re looking at shrouded spray options now, as the availability and cost of contract labour had an impact last year. It is a good example of weighing up the options, thinking of herbicide another tool in our toolkit. It’s something that we do use and will continue to use. It’s just thinking about the impact that it has, as well as the benefit that it can provide.”


Tahbilk’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond ideals; it is considered in every aspect of their operations. Through efficiency-driven practices, exploration of different management approaches, consideration of land care beyond the rows, prioritisation of soil health, optimisation of equipment usage, and overcoming challenges with an open mind — they are building a resilient business for generations to come.


Get in touch with AME Group for advice on building a flexible and efficient undervine management system that best suits your vineyard, utilising a multi-purpose tool carrier and implements such as finger-weeder and undervine mower heads.

Make quick work of de-suckering while protecting vines from damaging herbicide sprays with the shielded herbicide application sprayer for vineyards.

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