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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Influence of cover crop on water use and performance of vineyard in Mediterranean Portugal

Published source details

Monteiro A. & Lopes C.M. (2007) Influence of cover crop on water use and performance of vineyard in Mediterranean Portugal. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 121, 336-342


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Crop production: Plant or maintain ground cover in orchards or vineyards Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2002–2004 in a rainfed vineyard in central Portugal found similar grape yields, but differences in grape quality, in plots with ground cover (without tillage), compared to tilled soils (without cover crops), between the vine rows. Crop yield: Similar grape yields were found in plots with or without ground cover (2.9 kg/vine). Crop quality: Lower acidity (2004: 6.7–7.2 vs 8.1 g tartaric acid/litre), higher phenol content (data not reported), and higher anthocyanin content (2004: 1,182–1,269 vs 1,027 mg/litre) were found in grapes from plots with ground cover, but there were similar sugar contents (22 oBrix) and pH levels (pH 3.35). Methods: There were four plots for each of two ground-cover treatments (resident vegetation or sown cover crops, both without tillage between the vine rows), and there were four control plots (with tillage between the vine rows; depth not reported). The plots were four vine rows each (100 vines/row). The cover crops were 60% grasses (Lolium and Festuca spp.) and 40% legumes (Trifolium spp.), sown in March 2002. The interrows of all plots were mown (treatments: twice/year, to 15 cm, in February and May–June; controls: once/year, in February, height not reported). All plots were fertilized, and herbicide was used under the vines. Two-hundred grapes/plot were collected for measurements of crop quality.

Water: Plant or maintain ground cover in orchards or vineyards Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2002–2004 in a rainfed vineyard in central Portugal found similar amounts of water use in plots with or without cover crops between the vine rows. Water use: Similar amounts of water were used by vines and other vegetation in plots with or without cover crops (226–383 vs 222–357 mm/year). More water was used in plots with cover crops in one of three time-periods (budbreak–bloom: 2.1–3.3 vs 1.6–2.9 mm/day), but less was used in one of three time-periods, in one of two years (veraison–harvest: 0.83–0.89 vs 1.2 mm/day). Implementation options: Similar amounts of water were used by vines and other vegetation in plots with different types of cover crops (resident vegetation or sown grasses and legumes) between the vine rows (226–372 vs 241–383 mm/year). Methods: There were four plots for each of two cover-cropping treatments (resident vegetation or sown cover crops, both without tillage between the vine rows), and there were four control plots (with tillage between the vine rows; depth not reported). The plots were four vine rows each (100 vines/row). The sown cover crops were 60% grasses (Lolium and Festuca spp.) and 40% legumes (Trifolium spp.), sown in March 2002. The interrows of all plots were mown (treatments: twice/year, in February and May–June; controls: once/year, in February, height not reported). All plots were fertilized, and herbicide was used under the vines. Soil water content was measured between budbreak (early February) and harvest (capacitance probes, 10–100 cm depth, three samples/plot). Water use was estimated from water content and rainfall.