Autonomous mowing and complete floor cover for weed control

by | Apr 30, 2021 | South Africa Wine Scan


Enhancing vineyards sustainability and reducing herbicide usage is a crucial theme, thus alternative weed management methods are starting to be studied. The aim of this trial was to evaluate if the combination of cover crop species and autonomous mowers management could improve vineyard sustainability.


Cover crops have been shown to provide for several environmental services such as performing an efficient weed control and promoting biodiversity, thus improving the sustainability of the overall management system. However, the use of cover crops is usually confined to the interrow area in order to avoid competition with vines. Under-trellis weed management in vineyards is an important challenge, conventionally fulfilled by cultivation or repeated herbicides applications. Autonomous mowers are small autonomous machines that have shown a great efficiency when employed in agricultural contexts. Due to their reduced size, they can easily prevent the excessive vertical growth of weeds both in the interrows and under trellis without the use of chemical applications.


The two-year trial conducted in Italy consisted of four different treatments:

  • CC1-AM: cover crop 1 (blend of perennial ryegrass cultivars) autonomously mowed;
  • CC2-AM: cover crop 2 (blend of clover cultivars) autonomously mowed;
  • SC-CM: spontaneous cover (35 different weed species) autonomously mowed,
  • SC-AM: spontaneous cover conventionally managed (under trellis weeds treated with herbicide while interrow was mowed).


Vineyard floor cover that was managed with an autonomous mower had a shorter canopy height and a lower weed dry biomass compared to the conventionally managed vineyard floor cover. Vineyard floor management providing cover crops and autonomous mowing had a significantly lower weed cover percentage compared to conventional floor management, especially under-trellis.


The results of this trial suggest that the combination of cover crops and autonomous mowers may be a sustainable and reliable technique to include in vineyards floor management.


Sportelli M, Frasconi C, Fontanelli M, Pirchio M, Raffaelli M, Magni S, Caturegli L, Volterrani M, Mainardi M, Peruzzi A. Autonomous Mowing and Complete Floor Cover for Weed Control in Vineyards. Agronomy. 2021; 11(3):538.

Image credit (auto mower):

This abstract is republished in its original form, with headings inserted and methods/experimental layout added, as permitted by the following Creative Commons licence:

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