Water preservation measures during drought in Western Cape
Track Record

Water preservation measures during drought in Western Cape

Location

South Africa

Production

Table grapes, apples & pears

Climate

Hot mediterranean

Service

General Management

Farm size

430 Ha

Client Type

Corporate

Water

Irrigation

Kickstart

2017

Abstract

Soil Capital worked with the local team in a South African apple, pear and grape operation, to mitigate the impact of drought. The actions were targeted not only to provide short-term relief to farms during a drought that was the worst in a century, but also to prepare these farms for better water management in the long term.

Details

Re-building soil armour!

The first priority in an arid environment is to work with adapted mulch and compost to inoculate the soil and prevent soil water evaporation. This simple measure improves water holding capacity, enabling significantly lower water needs at stable production rates. In an environment where water availability is increasingly less reliable, this type of measure is a basic necessity.

Water preservation measures during drought in Western Cape
Improving soil water retention with living roots

An increased density of living roots is key to enable ground cover, develop the right biology, improve soil structure, correct soil compaction and achieve better water cycling. The ad-hoc design and implementation of a cover-crop cocktail composed of annuals and perennials is the right approach to achieve these goals. Plants that can survive very dry conditions often also have tough roots and are therefore useful allies.

Water preservation measures during drought in Western Cape
Measuring water availability and usage

Most farmers will trust their experience and instincts to measure the water needs of their crop. However, simple management measures such as the development of a "water budget", and the use of inexpensive equipment such as modern moisture probes and meters for water pumps, will go a long way in to create additional discipline in the use of water.

Water preservation measures during drought in Western Cape

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