Pioneering students plant new ideas in wine farmers’ heads

Farmers faced with water scarcity, loss of soil and deteriorating seed quality have a new weapon – five students who are the first in the country to do a Master’s degree in sustainable agriculture.

The students graduated from Stellenbosch University where, as part of their course, they worked with wine company Distell on biodiversity loss and soil degradation.

The university said: “They investigated the potential use of indigenous plants as cover crops in vineyards and they interviewed a number of farmers about what they would ideally want from a cover crop.

“This was followed by an intense literature search, visits to indigenous plant botanic gardens and key informant interviews with conservationists and viticulture researchers.

“A number of indigenous plants were in the process selected that can be used as cover crops to increase vineyard biodiversity, while also reducing soil degradation.”

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