17 - 19 November 2020


A less understood, rather undervalued, but vitally important resource for successful yields and production of quality grapes.

A rather different event to the first technical conference as, due to the virus outbreak, this one took place online. However, it was be equally informative with presentations from internationally renowned experts.

The conference took place over three mornings: 17,18 and 19 November, from 10am-12.30. 'Chat rooms' were available each day to visit our Partners and Patrons.

Download and view the full programme below:



Peter Hayes, Viticulturist:
'The balancing act: pH and soil nutrients'

Peter Hayes has extensive experience across education and training, R&D investment and management, viticultural operations and government and industry affairs in a 40+ year career in the Australian wine industry and in international industry affairs.

Over the last 10 years, he has engaged with the UK wine industry as a Grapegrowing and Vineyard Management Mentor in the WineSkills programme, then more recently as an advisor to several producers across the UK.

He was admitted as a Fellow of the ASVO in 2015 and to the Order of Australia, as a Member of the Order (AM) in January 2016.

Qualifications held are B.Sc. (University of Melbourne), Dip.Ed. (Monash University), B.App.Sci.-Wine Science (Riverina College/CSU); MS-Horticulture (UC Davis).

Professor Alex Maltman, University of Aberystwyth:
'Geology and Soil in Wines of GB'

Alex has a long and decorated career in university teaching and research in geology, and for over forty years has grown vines and made wine at his home in Wales. Inevitably, all this led him to the much lauded but poorly understood relationship between wine and vineyard geology. He has talked about aspects of this around the world and published in both the popular press and academic journals. Alex has advised on the geological content of a number of wine books, such as the Oxford Companion to Wine and the World Atlas of Wine. He is the author of the acclaimed book: “Vineyards, Rocks, and Soils: A Wine Lover’s Guide to Geology".

Professor Jane Rickson, Cranfield University:
'Soil water: The relationship with vine establishment and performance'

Jane Rickson is Professor of Soil Erosion and Conservation at Cranfield University, with over 30 years’ experience of research, consultancy and teaching in soil science, specialising in sustainable land management. Her work focuses on how soil produces food, regulates water and stores carbon. Jane works for Government and private sector clients and teaches courses in Environmental Engineering and Soil Management. She is former President of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers and is a Chartered Environmentalist.

Dr Mike Trought
Dr Mike Trought, Adjunct Associate Professor, Lincoln University:
'The Influence of Soil Texture on Vine Development'

Born in Birmingham, educated at Harper Adams Agricultural College, Aberystwyth University and Letcombe Laboratory (Wantage, while registered to do his PhD at Reading University), Mike moved to New Zealand in 1978. After a few years in Auckland and Nelson Mike arrived in Blenheim as Officer in Charge at the new Marlborough Research Centre in 1984, where he started a career in grape and wine research. Since that time, he has researched many aspects of grape development, in particular irrigation, rootstock, canopy management and the use of alternative understory management. From 1992 to 2000 he was Senior Lecturer in Viticulture at Lincoln University where research was largely focussed on canopy management, yield prediction and vine nutrition.  Returning to Marlborough in 2000, he joined Villa Maria Wines as their Marlborough Regional Viticulturist and then returned to Plant and Food Research as Principal Scientist at the Marlborough Research Centre.  Mike’s expertise is used to understand how ‘terroir’ and vine management influence juice composition and in turn the flavour and aroma of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and in the prediction of grapevine yield.

In 2009 he was selected as the New Zealand Wine Industry Personality of the Year and in 2016 was initiated into the New Zealand Winegrowers Roll of Fellows and in 2018 inducted into the New Zealand Wine Industry Hall of Fame for “outstanding contributions to the science of viticulture in New Zealand”.

He is a past president of the New Zealand Society of Plant Physiology, is Adjunct Associate Professor at Lincoln University, Honorary Fellow of Plant and Food Research and Associate Editor, Australian Journal Grape and Wine Research. For four years from 2013 he was on the Board of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology.

Mike “retired” in 2019 but maintains an active interest in grape and wine research.

Dr Mike Trought
Guy Thallon, Strategic Business Development, Crop Health division, Fera
'Unlocking the potential of complex soil biological systems for productivity, resilience and climate change mitigation'

Guy Thallon joined Fera in early 2018 to lead Strategic Business Development within the Crop Health division. In this role, Guy connects industry with Fera’s expert capabilities and supports the development of innovative services. As such, Guy has been closely involved with the development and launch of Fera’s ‘Big Soil Community’, a novel approach to understanding the role and relevance of soil biology to farm systems. Guy has a background in soil science and sustainable agriculture, studying at Cranfield University before joining the agri-food sector in innovation-orientated roles which actively promote more effective and accelerated translation of science into application.

Dr Mike Trought
Speakers to represent WineGB Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB)

Sustainable soil management

The pedosphere (soil) is not just a medium for growing vines, it supplies essential ecosystem services such water storage and purification and waste decomposition, often through providing habitats for organisms. Soil is a key sustainability issue, as it is under threat from an increased demand (due to a growing word population), organic matter decline, erosion, compaction, pollution and biodiversity loss. In order to gain Scheme Certification, SWGB Members must measure the health and fertility of their soils, then design and implement a sustainable soil management plan. The Scheme also focuses on the threat of climate change, caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. This section of the conference will focus on the opportunities for mitigating against climate change through holding carbon in vineyard soils.

Speakers to be announced soon.


Nuno Gaspar de Oliveira
Nuno Gaspar de Oliveira
Carbon as a key ecosystem service in soil sustainability

Biologist, specialized in Ecology (FCUL), co-founder of NBI – Natural Business Intelligence, start-up specialized in biodiversity, ecosystem services, natural capital and bioeconomy; Ecosystem Manager at the Esporão group, a major wine business operating in the Alentejo, Douro Valey and Green Wines; Lecturer in the Post-Graduations Sustainability Management (ISEG) and Circular Bioeconomy (Lusófona). Scientific Advisor in R&D in Alentejo Wines. Worked with WWF on the projects "New Generation Plantations" and "HABEaS-Hotspot Areas for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services" and was part of the 'Earth Condominium' and 'Green Cork' team, coordinated by Quercus. Postgraduate in Geography and Spatial Planning (FCSH) and Strategy and Management (IST-UL).


Tom Croghan
Tom Croghan
Ecological approaches to vineyard soil management

Trained as a physician and cellular immunologist, Tom Croghan is the owner and winemaker at The Vineyards at Dodon in Davidsonville, MD. Established in 2007, Dodon blends modern ecology with traditional farming methods to produce seven wines from its 16 acre estate vineyards. Dr. Croghan currently serves on the legislative affairs committee for the Maryland Wineries Association as its chair, the Maryland Department of Agriculture Health Soil Advisory Committee, and the Board of Directors of Future Harvest, a regenerative agriculture association serving the Chesapeake Bay region.