Irrigating smarter: measuring efficiency and uniformity (under revision)

Efficient irrigation and conserving water.
The assumptions are if the irrigation system was completely uniform, every vine in one management block would be receiving the exact same amount of water. If the system was completely efficient, all the water applied is taken up by the plant.

  • Aggressively mow cover crop.
    Discing creates warmer environment for fruit and resowing of cover crop so it is discouraged. Irrigate smaller volumes more frequently and irrigate early in morning or evening.
  • Maintain small vine.
    Apply small amounts of water until vines are larger and actively transpiring leaf area is larger. Irrigating at early evening or early morning conserves water by reducing evaporative loss with the added benefit that you can still detect problems with the irrigation system during daylight hours. (eg. try instead of five hours twice weekly, two and half hours four times weekly)
  • Irrigate to weakest soil profile on the block.
    The ones that hold the least water is the volume you are aiming for. Soil moisture (installed at several depths and electronic type) can be used in a test of applying different volumes of water. Find out how much can be applied without seeing much change in water content of the sensor below the root zone. Root zone can be assessed by backhoe the vigorous and weaker portions of your vineyard.
  • Other ideas are usually implemented at design of vineyard. eg. greater number of emitters with smaller discharge rate, laying out irrigation blocks based on soil uniformity.

Further reading:
Greenspan, Mark. Water cutbacks drive efficient irrigation. Wine Business Monthly July 2007.


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