Vines and Ovines: Using Trained Sheep for Vineyard Floor Grazing

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2008: $29,193.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Morgan Doran
University of California

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: grapes
  • Animals: sheep


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, extension, focus group, on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems

    Proposal summary:

    California grape growers most commonly use herbicides and cultivation to control weeds in the vine rows. However, herbicides can cause damage to surface and ground water, and cultivation may not get weeds that compete directly under vines.

    Recent experiments using grazing to control weeds or cover crops that compete with grape vines, or both, have utilized regular sheep confined by electric fencing to prevent grazing of the vines or short sheep breeds that cannot reach the vines but are fairly expensive.

    This Professional + Producer Grant will conduct field days to teach producers and the public how to employ this sustainable technique of sheep grazing using common breeds that are trained not to graze on spring vine growth using an aversion developed by Fred Provenza at Utah State University. Utilizing sheep in the vineyard is a cultural practice that presents benefits to the surrounding environment and the diversification potential and profitability of the wine grape operations of California.

    Producer input will be recorded and integrated into a comprehensive education program to train practitioners on the methods.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.