Browsing by Author "Bekker, Stefanus Johannes"
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- ItemExploiting soil and terrain heterogeneity : an investigation into vigour and physiology of grapevines on and off "heuweltjies‟ in the Western Cape, South Africa(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03) Bekker, Stefanus Johannes; Hoffman, J. E.; Jacobs, Shayne Martin; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Soil Science.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The topic of landscape heterogeneity has captured the imagination of ecologists and agriculturists alike and has been extensively investigated in this dissertation. Heuweltjies are landscape features putatively created by the termite Microhodotermes viator through their burrowing and nest-building activities. They have been closely examined in the natural veld of the Western Cape in the recent past and are the focus of many ecological studies. However, the effect of heuweltjies in cultivated landscapes (e.g. vineyards, orchards and wheat lands) remains unexplored. This study contributes significantly to our understanding of soil modifications associated with heuweltjies, as well as the physiology of vines growing on and off heuweltjies and wine made from these vines. It was hypothesized that heuweltjies occurring in cultivated areas can significantly affect crop yield and quality, thereby establishing itself as a potentially important role player in the agricultural economy of the Western Cape. This study was conducted in two climatic regions of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch (Mediterranean climate, Cabernet Sauvignon) and Robertson (semi-arid climate, Shiraz) to better understand how differences in heuweltjie characteristics correspond to differences in rainfall and temperature. In both study areas, heuweltjie soils were compared to non-heuweltjie soils with respect to physical and chemical. Grapevines associated with these heuweltjies were also compared to those growing on the adjacent, non-heuweltjie soils to determine any variation in vine vigour, physiology, phenology, berry characteristics and wine quality. Through the use of ANOVA's and Fisher's LSD posthoc tests to indicate statistical significance in soil and grapevine characteristics, it was apparent that heuweltjies induce substantial changes in soil and vine properties. Significant differences in the water content exist between the soils of the heuweltjies and non-heuweltjie areas. Heuweltjie soils exhibited higher values in comparison to the non-heuweltjie soils in the Stellenbosch study area, with opposite results in Robertson. Heuweltjie soils also displayed higher exchangeable calcium and magnesium and higher total carbon and total nitrogen values than non-heuweltjie soils in both study areas. Differences in physiology were more subtle, but vine vigour was severely altered on the heuweltjie-associated vines, exhibiting excessive vegetative growth in Stellenbosch, leading to variations in berry characteristics on and off the heuweltjies. Again, the opposite was observed for Robertson. Lower sugar and alcohol percentages and higher titratable as well as malic acid concentrations were observed in the wines emanating from the heuweltjies in Stellenbosch. Sensory analyses proved significant, as lower astringency and alcohol burn were detected in the Cabernet Sauvignon heuweltjie wines than the non-heuweltjie wines in the Stellenbosch study area. Chemical differences in the wines from the Robertson study are were insignificant. However, a significantly lower fruitiness was observed in the Shiraz heuweltjie-wines when compared to the non-heuweltjie wines. Differences in soil water content between heuweltjies and its adjacent soils was the most influential factor in this study, and affected all of the soil-grapevine interactions to a large extent. Further research need to be conducted to better understand and clarify the reasons behind these variations, as well as possible effects of global warming on heuweltjie functioning in different climatic regions of the Western Cape.