Senior Researcher (Soil and Water Science) at the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij
“I am looking at the response of honeybush tea to different levels of irrigation.”
Exploring the need for water
My research is about the response of honeybush to irrigation. Together with my research partner, Dr Nike Lewu, I am trying to establish how different levels of irrigation in the two months before harvest impacts the yield and quality of honeybush tea. We are applying three different irrigation treatments to honeybush plants.
Through an irrigation trial established at the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij campus, honeybush plants (Cyclopia subternata) are exposed to different irrigation practices and access to water.
Then, by assessing yields and performing a sensory analysis, we will establish irrigation guidelines for honeybush irrigation. The sensory analysis entails assessing the quality of the tea produced from honeybush plants grown in this trial.
Why this is important
There is a big gap in scientific research on best practice for honeybush irrigation, as it is normally produced under dryland conditions. However, the demand for honeybush tea is growing. We think that the correct levels of irrigation could improve yields. The different treatments will be applied from January 2021.
More about the researcher
Howell is an experienced senior researcher in the Soil and Water Science Division of the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij. She has a PhD in Soil Science and has published several papers on irrigation topics. Her undergraduate background in soil science has steered her into studying the relationship between water and wine and table grapes. This included investigating the impact and use of diluted winery wastewater for vineyard irrigation and studying the combined effect of canopy management and irrigation on grapevine performance. Howell has also focused on irrigation of table grapes. She is currently an assistant editor of the South African Journal of Enology and Viticulture.
Dr Carolyn Howell, a senior researcher at the ARC’s Soil and Water Science Division, is investigating the response of honeybush to different levels of irrigation.