Henrique Andre Manhique



Prof. Dr. Frank Wätzold

Titel der Dissertation:

Cost benefit analysis of ground cover management techniques, using fruit orchards in the Western Cape province, South Africa, as a case study.


Agricultural production in South Africa is characterised by immense challenges deriving from water scarcity, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems functioning. As part of the cluster, this research assess the economic performance of different ground cover management practices in conventionally managed fruit orchards in Western Cape Province, South Africa. Ground cover management helps to protect the topsoil from erosion and drought, supress weeds (thus, reducing the competition for nutrients between weeds and crops), and add structural diversity to agricultural production systems.

Although ground cover management is (potentially) ecologically advantageous, its adoption will hang upon economic considerations. Farmers will adopt ground cover management practices if they are more profitable than other commonly used practices (e.g. herbicides). For this reason, this research conducts a comprehensive analysis of costs and benefits (revenue generation) accrued to farmers from the application of different ground cover management practices and compare them to the application of herbicides in fruit orchards. In addition to private (farmers’ perspective) cost-benefit-analysis, the research carries out a societal cost-benefit-analysis in order to assess the total costs and benefits accrued to society at large. Societal benefits from ground cover management practices might include improved biodiversity conservation and enhanced ecosystem service provision. The cost-benefit-analysis also take into consideration aspects, such as landscape composition (orchards with or without adjacent natural habitats, proximity of remnant natural patches) and climatic conditions (e.g. precipitation, low vs high altitude); these aspects might account for the differences in performance of ground cover management practices, and thus the resultant costs and benefits.


Henrique Manhique has obtained his Master of Science degree in Environmental and Resource Management from the Brandenburg University of technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU-CS) with the thesis “Area-wide or field-by-field? A cost-effectiveness analysis of pest management strategies for a systems approach in South Africa”. While pursuing his Master degree at BTU-CS, he also worked as research student at the chair of environmental economics. Since April 2020, he is a PhD student at chair of environmental economics under Prof. Dr. rer. pol. Frank Wätzold.

Benjamin Schnerch

E-Mail: Benjamin.Schnerch(at)


Prof. Dr. Klaus Birkhofer

Titel der Dissertation:

Ground cover management in South African fruit production systems and related consequences for biological control services


The aim of this research is to understand how different approaches of ground cover management simultaneously affect the provision of ecosystem services (pest control), disservices (pest infestation) and biodiversity (arthropods) in South African fruit orchards. The ground cover management aims to reduce competition for nutrients and water between weeds and fruit trees. Under increasingly frequent and extended drought spells in the future, choices of ground cover management practices will even more impact the composition of weed communities in orchards, which affects natural enemy and pest populations and cascades up to alter tree performance and fruit quality. Therefore, the project investigates ground cover management practices (no mulch vs. mulch vs. living mulch) with and without applications of herbicides in conventionally managed fruit tree orchards taking into account adjacent natural ecosystems on three components of biological control, namely levels of pest infestations, natural densities and pest control services under different climatic conditions.


Benjamin Schnerch was born in Halle/Saale, Germany. In 2014, he finished his Bachelor of Sciences in Land Use and Water Management at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg with the thesis “Grasshoppers on carcasses in Lieberoser Heide”. He completed his Master of Science in Land Use and Water Management in 2019, also at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg with the thesis title “Comparison of the spider fauna in restored and natural forests in the Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana”. Since April 2020, he is a PhD student at the Chair of Ecology.

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