Scott Sharp-Heward is a Master’s student working with Dr Peter Almond in the Soil Science department. After completing a Bachelor’s of Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln, he decided to pursue a project investigating the effects of landscape recontouring in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley. In recent years, landscape recontouring has been undertaken in many areas of Marlborough to expand the area available for planting vineyards, but the impact of this practice is not well characterised.
Scott will work to map the soils in affected areas and build a database of the physical and chemical properties of three types of sites: the untouched soil, the soil that has been moved from the ridges or crests of hills into basins and gullies, and the soil that is now exposed on the surface of sites that were formerly ridges. He also plans to investigate the stability of recontoured slopes using soil engineering tests that provide insight into the infrastructure and erosion potential, and the increasing problem of soil creep in these areas.
He is conduction the research with support from the Marlborough District Council, and expects to see long-term benefits of this research as the project will elucidate “how landscape recontouring affects plant growth and erosion processes” which he hopes will lead the New Zealand wine industry to choose sustainable land management practices in the future.