Influence of a spontaneous cover crop on the vineyard and soil erosion under Mediterranean climate

Sixty five % of the agricultural area of the Basque Country located in the DO Ca Rioja corresponds to vineyards. More than 40% of it has an average slope greater than 10%, which makes it sensitive to erosive processes. Furthermore, it is foreseeable that extreme weather events (storms, hail, extreme heat and cold, etc.) will be favored due to climate change. Cover cropping can mitigate this risk, and therefore the objective of this work is to evaluate the impact that a vegetable cover has on the agronomic behavior of the vineyard, the quality of the grape and soil erosion. For this, a trial has been carried out with a Graciano variety vineyard with a slope between 10% -20% during the years 2020 and 2021. Conventional tillage management in the area has been compared (4-6 passes per year of tillage machinery) versus spontaneous vegetation cover management in the vineyard. This implies not tilling and allowing the grass of the land to colonize the range between the lines of vines, controlling their height through 1-3 mowing passes per year, always trying to affect the surface of the land as little as possible. The vegetative growth, yield and quality of the grape and wine was measured. Furthermore, erosion has been measured using Gerlasch boxes. The yield was lower in the second year of the trial in the cover crop treatment, but erosion was significantly reduced.

Authors: Roberto Perez-Parmo, Ana Aizpurua and Olatz Unamunzaga

NEIKER, Basque Institute of Agricultural Research and Development, Derio (Bizkaia), Spain

Email: aaizpurua@neiker.eus

Keywords: soil erosion, cover crop, vineyard

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