Enhancing the Rural Landscape Character: The Low Frequency of Inter-Row Wildflower Meadow Harvest Positively Affects Biodiversity While Maintaining Grape Quantitative and Qualitative Traits in a 'Sultanina' Vineyard in Greece
The development of inter-row wildflower meadows in vineyards could restore and preserve biodiversity as well as enhance the local rural landscape character. Herein, the prospect of inter-row development of a wildflower meadow from spontaneous vegetation growing within a table grape 'Sultanina' vineyard was studied for two years through the effect of different intensities of harvest on the meadow composition, arthropod presence, and grape vine produce. Three harvest treatments (constant,
... , and none) were examined. The growth (height and area of groundcover) and number of plants per species that composed the inter-row wildflower meadow as well as the insects found within it and on the grape vine plants were recorded. At maturity, the main quantitative (yield/vine) and qualitative characteristics (soluble solids, pH, and total titratable acidity) of the grapes were evaluated. Results showed that both the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the grape vines did not differ between treatments. The inter-row vineyard meadow composition that constituted of 21 herbaceous species did not differ between the periodic- and no-harvest treatments. Insect pests hosted within the meadow did not pose a threat to 'Sultanina' grapes, although thrips within the inter-row meadow showed a preference for Convolvulus arvensis. The overall results suggest the application of either a periodic- or no-harvest on the spontaneous vegetation of a Mediterranean 'Sultanina' vineyard over two years and constitutes the development of inter-row wildflower meadows from spontaneous vegetations as an appealing and promising sustainable vineyard floor management practice for permanent use that needs to be further researched.