The Benefits of Cover Crops in the Viticulture Industry
March 10, 2023 All Regions
Pictured above: A midrow custom cover crop blend by S&W at Rusden Wines vineyard in Barossa, SA
Cover cropping has become an increasingly popular practice in viticulture, offering a range of benefits to vineyard owners and growers. By planting cover crops between rows of vines, growers can improve soil health, reduce erosion, and increase biodiversity in their vineyards. In this article, we will explore the benefits of cover cropping in viticulture and the cover cropping solutions offered by S&W Seed Company Australia.
Cover Crops For Soil Health
One of the main benefits of cover cropping in viticulture is the improvement of soil health. Cover crops help to maintain soil structure, prevent erosion, and increase organic matter in the soil. This can lead to improved soil fertility, increased water-holding capacity, and better nutrient retention, which can all contribute to healthier vine growth and higher yields.
The S&W SOWsmart Multi Species Soil Builder has been designed to repair and build soil organic matter. This blend is a great combination of high dry matter varieties and deep rooted species.
Weed Control With Cover Crops
Cover crops can also help to control weeds, reducing the need for herbicides and other chemical inputs. By competing with weeds for nutrients and sunlight, cover crops can reduce weed growth and prevent the establishment of new weed populations. This can save growers time and money on herbicide applications, while also reducing the environmental impact of their operations.
While cover crops are commonly sown mid-row in vineyards to improve soil health and manage weeds, growers have recently started experimenting with under-vine cover crops as a way to control weeds. An organic vineyard in Orange, NSW, has been trialing under-vine cover crops with custom blends from S&W, saying “getting the right blend is critical.”
Undervine cover crop trial in Orange, NSW with Sardi Persian Clover in bloom.
Encouraging Biodiversity in Vineyards
In addition to improving soil health and weed control, cover crops can also increase biodiversity in vineyards. Cover crops provide habitat for beneficial insects and other wildlife, helping to support natural pest control and pollination. They can also help to reduce the spread of diseases and pests by providing a buffer zone between vines.
Cover Crop Blends For Viticulture
S&W Seed Company offers a range of cover cropping products, including custom cover crop blends specifically designed for viticulture. Blends often include a range of species, such as legumes, grasses, and brassicas, that provide a range of benefits to vineyards. For example, legumes like clover and vetch can fix nitrogen in the soil, providing a natural source of fertilizer for vines. Grasses like oats and rye can help to suppress weeds and improve soil structure, while brassicas like radishes can help to break up compacted soil and scavenge nutrients.
Cover cropping is an effective and sustainable practice for viticulture that offers a range of benefits to vineyard owners and growers. By improving soil health, controlling weeds, and increasing biodiversity, cover cropping can lead to healthier vines, higher yields, and reduced environmental impact. With the range of cover cropping products offered by S&W Seed Company, and expert advice provided by S&W territory managers, the viticulture industry have the tools they need to implement this practice in their operations and reap the benefits of cover cropping.