Almighty Cover Crops
In the BIOVINE project, cover crops are tested in vineyards for several plant protection purposes
Fungal pathogens are able to produce inoculum (spores) on plant debris present on the soil surface of vineyards. These spores can then reach plant surfaces and cause severe grapevine infections when environmental conditions are favourable. The capacity of plant diversity to increase the resistance of crops towards pests and invasive species is very well-known. For instance, Brassica spp. have been already investigated for their capacity to effectively suppress soil-borne inoculum of some causal agents of Black-foot disease in grapevines in vineyard soils. It may also have positive effect on the some dagger nematodes. Cover crops also stimulate the development of microbial communities such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Many management strategies have been developed against these important grapevine pathogens, but the effects of soil cover vegetation or organic mulching against spore dispersal, acting as a barrier, have been scarcely explored.
Thus, in the BIOVINE project (www.biovine.eu) specific experiments were planned in order to verify the possibility of using cover crops: i) to control some relevant pathogens producing inoculum (spores) on plant debris present on the soil surface of vineyards; ii) to determine the presence of causal agents of Petri disease of grapevines on the roots of cover crops; iii) to promote mykorrhizal communities associated with grapevine roots; iv) to control arthropod pests (repellent of arthropods or attracting beneficials); v) to investigate Brassica plants effect on the soil-borne pest nematode Xiphinema index.