Plant cover and irrigation splitting to adapt vineyards to climate change

25 April 2024


  • The European project VITISAD 2 seeks to promote and encourage viticultural practices that allow adaptation to climate change in the vineyards of the western area of the POCTEFA area, through cooperation between Spain and France.
  • The project will implement techniques to improve the quality of must and wine under adverse climatic conditions, optimise the sustainable use of irrigation water and increase the varietal and inter-varietal biodiversity of the vineyard.
  • NEIKER technology centre is one of the members of the consortium of this cross-border initiative that aims to preserve viticulture through the implementation and evaluation of different solutions.

Europe is very aware of the impact that climate change is having on productive sectors and economic activities such as the wine sector. In this context, both vine cultivation and grape quality are affected by these variable climatic conditions. For this reason, the evaluation of agronomic practices that allow adaptation to climate change is encouraged. Tackling this problem from a cross-border approach, assessing the joint application of different agronomic adaptation strategies and studying their impact in regions with different environmental conditions, allows validating the studies carried out on both sides of the border, obtaining better guarantees to transfer the results to winegrowers and wineries, assisting them in their decision-making.

The VITISAD 2 project was created to respond to the challenge of preserving viticulture and winegrowers in their territory, through the synergies established between institutions that make up a plural, consolidated and balanced partnership of French and Spanish partners. The French partners are the Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin, the Chambre d’Agriculture des Pyrénées Atlantiques and the Université de Toulouse 2-Jean JAURES, while the Spanish partners are the Directorate-General for Rural Development of the Department of Rural Development and the Environment of the Government of Navarre, the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Livestock of the Government of La Rioja and the NEIKER technology centre. All of them are grouped within the POCTEFA action territory, which includes all the departments and provinces close to the French-Spanish border, as well as the Principality of Andorra.

The proposed actions include the following:

1. Sustainable water management for the vineyard and efficient use of irrigation water, optimising this resource and adapting the application strategy to increase grape quality. To this end, more efficient techniques will be developed, such as underground irrigation, and irrigation strategies will be adopted with the support of field and satellite measurements that allow the needs of the vine to be adjusted to large areas of cultivation.
2. Selection of varieties and clones adapted to climate change which, on the basis of results obtained in the previous VITISAD, will extend the study of their agronomic behaviour and add new information on their water, nutritional and phenological status, assessing resilience to climate change.
3. Use of different types of plant cover, as a way of protecting the vineyard soil against erosion and runoff, and of different covers, located at the planting line, as a sustainable alternative to the use of herbicides.
4. Control and protection of the bunches against high summer temperatures by means of shading techniques.
5. Study of the acceptability and transferability of the viticultural practices proposed in the project, analysing the opinions of winegrowers, public authorities and consumers on the proposed adaptation practices, analysing the possible existence of obstacles to their practical implementation.

All these actions are integrated into the EU’s green and agricultural policies and contribute to promoting sustainable development of the territory through the innovative solutions presented.

The potential beneficiaries of the results of VITISAD 2 include the different stakeholders in the wine sector, public administrations, professional agricultural organisations and the Regulatory and Organic Production Councils responsible for the wine sector.

Continuation of the VITISAD project

This cross-border cooperation project for the adaptation of vineyards to the current climate scenario was approved on 21 February last by the final resolution of the Managing Authority of the Interreg VI-A Spain-France-Andorra Programme (POCTEFA 2021-2027) and will last until February 2027. In this way, the contribution made by the previous VITISAD project is recognised and the need to capitalise on the results obtained in it is valued, as is the need to extend the lines of work developed previously, as well as to open up horizons for future projects.
VITISAD 2 has a budget of 865,446.42 euros, 65% of which is co-financed by the European Union through the Interreg VI-A Spain-France-Andorra Programme (POCTEFA 2021-2027). The aim of the programme is to strengthen the economic and social integration of the Spain-France-Andorra border area.

The great understanding and work developed by all partners in the previous project, awarded in 2024 by the Spanish Ministry of Finance and Public Function in its annual #EuropaSeSiente project competition, has driven VITISAD 2 as an initiative to promote and disseminate techniques and strategies for prevention, mitigation, adaptation and management of the negative effects of climate change in the vineyard.