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Sa Fruit Journal June July 2021 Cover Crop Trials Web Main
June / July 2021

Cover Crop Trials – Beneficial preliminary results for deciduous fruit Growers

SA Fruit Journal: June / July 2021

Research on soil health and orchard floor ecology is an emerging theme in agriculture, as it is an important component of sustainability. By Elise-Marie Steenkamp.

Hortgro Science Crop Protection Manager, Matthew Addison along with Hendrik Pohl, had the vision to initiate a cover crop project in 2017. Addison shares what the team has found to date and why he believes using “diverse cover crops” is essential for future deciduous fruit production in SA.

Despite the aggressive March sun, Matthew Addison appears cool in his white shirt and khaki pants. Standing in one of his cover crop trial blocks, he explains enthusiastically the basic purpose of the project: to answer the question of whether diversity in cover crops benefits the production process and orchard ecology.

For the investigation, Addison decided on two differential trial areas. The one on Bokveldskloof in the Koue Bokkeveld, and the other on Lorraine in the Warm Bokkeveld – both ZZ2 entities. This is not a coincidence, says Addison, “as Hendrik was very enthusiastic and he and his staff have contributed hugely to the trial”.

The trial started in 2017 on Lorraine. But due to erratic weather conditions in the Koue Bokkeveld, they had to delay the trial on Bokveldskloof for a year, which got underway in 2018.

Now, four years later, he can confidently answer the original question, namely that cover crops are not just a green fad, and that they should be considered by any grower who is serious about soil health and sustainable production practices.

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