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Measuring the effect of cover crops on soil and vine health, and grape quality

by | Feb 26, 2023 | Viticulture

Project Number:
EXPCo G32-22

Project title:
Measuring the effect of cover crops on soil and vine health, and grape quality

Project leader:

Pienaar, A


Experico, Stellenbosch

Start date:


Project description:

The aim of this project is to build on existing knowledge and investigate the effect of cover crop mixes on soil health and grapevines. 

With increased interest in more sustainable farming practices, more research is being done on the use of cover crops in agricultural systems. Local cover crop trials have recently been conducted in vineyards, focusing on cover crop mixes and their success, cover crop biomass, and weed suppression. The use of the right cover crop mix can increase soil moisture, improve soil structure, suppress weeds and pests, increase plant-available nutrients and improve crop resilience. This in turn reduces irrigation, pesticide, and fertilizer costs.

In this project, the viability of growing cover crops under the vine and growing permanent cover crops will also be investigated.  Analysis of nematode communities will add to the knowledge base of nematode host status of cover crop species.  Care will be taken to include cover crops that will have a suppressive effect on inoculum and infestation levels of pathogens and/or pests. 

This project aims to provide the industry with crucial information to fill the knowledge gaps about the selection of cover crops to improve the properties and ecology of soil in vineyards. 


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