Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
06.12.2014  
 

Pinpointing Vineyard Irrigation

Oregon grapegrowers install evapotranspiration monitor, eliminate guesswork

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
“evapotranspiration”
 
Vineyard equipment developed by Tule Technologies (seen here at Sugarloaf Mountain) is being installed at Willakia vineyard in Oregon to measure moisture being used.
Amity, Ore.—With below-average rainfall forecast for much of the western United States, Northwest grapegrowers will be keeping close tabs on vines this season to ensure they’re getting the water they need.

Typically, that’s done through methods ranging from visual monitoring to pressure bombs that extrapolate evapotranspiration data from bellwether vines across an entire vineyard.

Various services also exist that allow growers to estimate evapotranspiration rates for their particular locations based on general meteorological data.

But this Friday, Atlas Vineyard Management Inc. will install a system at Willakia vineyard east of Amity that measures the local vineyard climate, giving real-time local data to determine the needs of vines across a 10-acre block.

Developed by Tule Technologies Inc. of California, the system employs surface renewal analysis to measure moisture levels in layers of air above the vineyard, and matches that data with models of evapotranspiration rates prepared by USDA scientist Andrew McElrone and post-doctoral researcher Tom Shapland from the University of California, Davis.

The result is a more accurate picture of how vines are using water.

How it works
“To measure how much water the vines are using, surface renewal quantifies how much heat and water vapor the wind carries away from a 2- to 5-acre vineyard block,” Shapland explained in an article for Practical Winery & Vineyard earlier this year.

Tule’s system measures the moisture in different layers of air, or eddy fluxes, and extrapolates that across a 10-acre site to provide a more accurate read of local conditions than viticulturists previously enjoyed.

“Most of these devices are just connected to one or two vines,” explained Francisco Araujo, director of quality control and technical winegrowing operations for Atlas. “With one instrument we’re covering an exponentially larger area. We’re not extrapolating data from one or two vines, we’re measuring it over a large surface.”

Moreover, the local readings mean that growers aren’t relying on estimate-based conditions in a reference field that may be growing another crop such as alfalfa.

“We’re measuring directly the vineyard evapotranspiration as opposed to a reference evapotranspiration,” Araujo told Wines & Vines.

Atlas is piloting the system at vineyards in Napa and the Petaluma Gap, and the installation at Willakia (acquired earlier this year by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) will be its third site and first in Oregon.

While it’s still too early to know how usage has changed, Araujo said there’s a lot less guesstimating going on with respect to irrigation needs.

“We’re seeing full canopy growth, and our growth targets have been met,” he said. “We don’t have that urgency to irrigate. We would otherwise be guessing, ‘Hey, it’s been a dry winter, what’s going on?’ So it’s really helping and giving us more information so we can decide.”

That information means one more tool in the kit of growers, who increasingly receive encouragement from extension workers to control water and regularly told of new methods to reduce and eliminate water use.

Implications afield
Okanagan growers attending the British Columbia Wine Grape Council meeting last year heard Mark Battany, an advisor to growers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties with the University of California Cooperative Extension, explain how better climate information could help wean growers off sprinkler systems for frost control in favor of wind machines or better vineyard design.

While the impetus to manage water wisely is high in California, drier conditions this year promise to put water on everyone’s minds.

The latest report from Greg Jones, director of Southern Oregon University’s Division of Business, Communication, and the Environment in Ashland, notes that the accumulation of growing degree-days across the state through the end of May is up 26% to 68% above the normal for the period 1981-2010.

Meanwhile, precipitation is down by more than 20%.

The prospect of El Niño conditions emerging later this year promises drier, warmer conditions for the Pacific Northwest.

SHARE »
Close
LATEST READER COMMENTS
 
 
Posted on 06.16.2014 - 09:48:41 PST
 
As a past vineyard worker who has spent countless hours using a pressure bomb in the hottest part of the summer, this technology is very welcome! It sounds like it provides a much more accurate "picture" of vine water status too.
 
Guest
 
 
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 $562 million
5%
$7,549 million
6%
June 2013 $535 million $7,094 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 $87 million
17%
$1,669 million
11%
June 2013 $74 million $1,510 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 300
34%
220
21%
June 2013 224 182
     
 
MORE » Released on 07.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wines & Vines
Packaging Conference
 
Learn More »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • July 24
     
    Fresno Food Expo
     
  • July 24-27
     
    Taste our Terroir
     
  • July 25-27
     
    International Pinot Noir Celebration
     
  • July 26
     
    Introduction to Wine Analysis
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Roundup is not benign. It does not always break down in a day or two...
Reader: Robert Rex
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Mitigating water use in the vineyard in the first place is also an applicable tactic....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Having managed vineyards that have used both approaches, I would say that a diverse approach...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Employee Store Associa...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Lead
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Maintenance Working Su...
 St Helena, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Tasting Room
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Northwest Area Manager...
 Seattle, WA
Sales and Marketing
 Regional Manager - Mou...
 Colorado, CO
Sales and Marketing
 Purchasing Coordinator
 Westlake Village, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Associate
 Paso Robles, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Fine Wine Manager-On P...
 Modesto, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Harvest Internship
 Woodinville, WA
Winemaking and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.