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Cover crops in vineyards

For 10 years, PUR Projet has worked on developing agroforestry in Méditerranée, France, to help build resiliency in local agriculture systems to climate change while at the same time mitigating against it. This French region, with a high proportion of vineyards, olive and other fruit trees, is one of the most impacted by climate change, with longer droughts, and frequent thunderstorms occurring each autumn. For a long time now, local citizens have gotten used to seeing these shocking pictures of browny rivers flowing into the Mediterranean sea. These images can appear beautiful at first, but when one understands that this brown colour is due to massive soil erosion, this beauty fades away and leaves a feeling of disaster.

Trees planted in agroforestry (alley cropping or hedges) can help reduce water runoff, and therefore, soil erosion. Yet, another practice, very efficient to fight soil erosion (and mineralisation as well when temperatures are getting too high), is cover cropping. For this reason, in 2020, PUR Projet started implementing cover cropping practices in vineyards, in partnership with a group of voluntary farmers, in Gard (30). The aim of this project is to counsel and finance these farmers in the implementation of cover crops practices, especially during autumn and winter, when heavy rainfalls occur.

In addition to combatting soil erosion, cover cropping is considered as one of the most effective practices to sequester carbon in soils, according to a study done by INRAE in 2019. So not only does it help farmers protect their soils from climatic hazards, but it also contributes to fighting climate change.

For this first year, 4 farmers seeded 4 ha of cover crops in their vineyards, with a mix of different species (grasses and legumes). The objective is now to scale up in 2021 with approximately 40 farmers, already interested to take action, with the help of our financial partners, allowing these projects to exist, and to scale up faster.

EMIL SIMONDON

Coordinator for the projects in France, Emil is passionate about agricultural transition and has been seduced by the « shared value » approach promoted by PUR Projet. He enjoys contact with farmers and being at the forefront of the different actors involved in the agricultural world.

 

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