The project "Sheep in Vineyards" aims to create links between sheep breeders and vine growers so as to develop sheep pasturing in vineyards.
Pasturing of vineyards may impact on the environment as follows:
It is, however, unclear whether phytosanitary treatments of the grapevine plants will negatively influence sheep health. In this context, toxicity effects of copper are of particular importance as sheep are very sensitive to copper intoxications.
Copper is sprayed on grapevines by growers to mainly treat against mildew. Part of the copper washes off and can seep into the pasture, but also into the soil, where it can be absorbed by close to ground vegetation. In both cases, copper may be ingested by sheep while grazing.
In on-farm trials, samples of ground vegetation in vineyards and sheep blood will be analysed for copper in order to identify possible toxicity problems.