Organic Science Cluster 3

The Organic Federation of Canada (OFC) in collaboration with the Organic Agricultural Centre of Canada (OACC) at Dalhousie University are pleased to introduce Organic Science Cluster 3 (OSC3): Connecting Environmental Sustainability with the Science of Organic Production.

OSC3 is supported by the AgriScience Program under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership (an investment by federal, provincial, and territorial governments) and over 70 partners from the agricultural community.

Project title: Unique Cover Crops, Rootstocks, and Irrigation Techniques for Canadian Vineyards

Grape growers are increasingly interested in finding strategies to enhance vineyards long-term productivity while improving the overall ecosystem health. The market for more organic or sustainable wine is also an incentive that encourages some grape growers to adopt these practices. The boom of organic viticulture and more generally the increased demand for wine products with a smaller environmental footprint (e.g. reduced loss of nutrients, lower net greenhouse gas emissions, less energy use and pollution), underscore the need to explore the management practices that enhance ecosystem services and consequently improve the resilience of these ecosystems. Here we propose using cover crops, rootstocks, and novel irrigation strategies to enhance vineyard resilience in the face of climate change and increase its economic and environmental sustainability.

This project will first screen cover crop species and mixtures for each region (semi-arid and humid). A short list of suitable options will be tested under field and controlled conditions. Soil and plant water status under different irrigation systems will be monitored as well as grape cultivars in terms of productivity and berry composition responses. Finally, the project will involve interactions between cover crops, rootstocks and irrigation strategies. By its originality of being spread in two provinces where climatic conditions greatly vary, the project will benefit growers by giving them a decision tool that can guide them when adoption different strategies related to cover crops, irrigation and rootstocks. This tool will be extract from the commonalities and differences between regions.


Liette Vasseur, PI

Brock University, St Catharines

Mehdi Sharifi

Research Scientist, Science and Technology Branch, Summerland Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Miranda Hart

University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC

Kathryn Carter


Lisa Wambold


Contributing Partners

BC Wine Grape Council

Heather Laundry’s Vineyard

Southbrook Vineyards

Brock University