"What does natural grassing mean? Natural grassing means that we have allowed every type of plant to grow without any distinction between good grasses and so-called weeds. There are many advantages to having a wide variety of plants. First of all, plants are the first stage in the creation of humus, which is the upper layer of the soil created and maintained by the decomposition of organic matter, mainly through the combined action of animals, bacteria and fungi in the soil.
Humus is characteristic of living soils; it is not found in deserts and, more generally, in any environment where there is no vegetation. The degradation cycle of organic matter faster and more consistent where there is a diversity of biomass organized around a variety of plants whose life cycles overlap over time.
Another advantage of humus is its capacity to retain water, a major quality of plant composts which are partial reproductions of humus, made from plant waste.
The organic matter from which humus is made is mainly of plant origin, with some bacterial and animal input during the transformation process, whereas the components of the subsoil are mainly of mineral origin.
Without plant protection on the surface and with no input of organic matter, the erosion and impoverishment of this type of soil are inevitable. This is why, on often heavily eroded vineyard soils, man has attempted to make up for the poverty of the soil by adding chemical or organic fertilisers. These fertilisers are washed out by the rain and are themselves the victims of erosion. At best, the vine develops a horizontal, superficial root system to feed on these fertilisers whose composition is, to be brief, NPK. If we don’t use fertilisers, we must be capable of maintaining or creating a layer of humus which, if it has developed naturally, will feed the vine in a healthier, more complex and varied way. The vine will therefore be more resistant to disease. The image of a vine fed on fertilisers conjures up that of the fattening-up of pets and of a bed-ridden patient on a drip.
Unnatural grassing, where the grasses are sown by man, doesn’t have the same advantages as natural grassing, because it often consists of a single plant. While natural grassing attempts to reproduce an entire ecosystem, the sowing of a single crop is no more than a poor substitute within which the micro-fauna will not be varied enough to create humus and naturally provide a chain of predators to control vine diseases and pests. A further argument in favour of the diversity of natural grassing is that the different plants do not grow roots to the same vertical depth in the humus and therefore work more effectively together to combat the erosion of the surface layer of the soil caused particularly by rainwater run-off.
Each plant is a natural factory that doesn’t supply the same constituents. Take the example of parsley and mint: their respective scents tell you that they’re different, but you also know that some plants are rich in iron and others in magnesium. So each of these brave soldiers will provide the humus with its own specific transformation compounds that will add to the vine’s nutrient potential.
The main “weeds”, such as dandelions and thistles, are in fact the best in terms of their capacity to relieve soil compaction, using their roots as a pivot.
The main argument used against natural grassing is that of “water stress”, which suggests that the