In 2015, RCD began taking three important steps towards improving our water-use efficiency at Huichica Creek Vineyard: 1) upgraded the performance of our filters, valves, and manifold design, 2) during redevelopment of one of five blocks, replace all drip hose and emitters, and 3) incorporate more soil moisture and vine stress information into our irrigation scheduling. California Department of Water Resources and USDA – NRCS provided grant funds to support these projects.
Upgrades to Filters, Valves, and Manifold Design
- Relocated and upgraded valve manifold assembly
- Installed automatic flushing filter
- Installed automatic valves on timers, pressure gauges up and down stream of the filter, fertilizer injection ports
- Re-routed all neighboring irrigation blocks to central manifold for efficient and central valve control
- Re-routed sub-main piping so that risers are at the end posts and easy to regulate
- Ranch Systems cell node installed for remote control of electronic valves, and viewing flow meter readings (gpm) in real time
- Well pump has a Variable Frequency Drive
Replacing Drip Hose and Emitters During Redevelopment
- Replant block received new Netafim emitters. After install the DU was equal to 0.94 (previous irrigation system had DU = 0.75- 0.80).
- Installed secondary drip hose in the replant block so that weak vines can be custom irrigated or fertilized.
Irrigation Scheduling and Water Management
- Weekly vine stress monitoring of leaf water potential.
- Stomatal conductivity is performed in 5 designated areas in the vineyard.
- Weekly observation of shoot tip and canopy growth.
- Soil Moisture Probes – 2 Aquacheck soil moisture capacitance probes installed in two locations spanning the variability of the Haire Loam soil type. Each probehas 6 sensors, spaced 8 inches apart down to a depth of 48 inches. Soil moisture is monitored weekly and coupled with vine stress measurements for determining the exact timing of an irrigation event. When vine stress is moderate to high and the soil moisture is approaching the allowable moisture depletion level, an irrigation event follows. The depth of each irrigation event is monitored. A target depth of at least 36 inches is desired.
- Crop evapotranspiration rates are calculated and monitored from weekly reference ET data from the local CIMIS station. ET and weather-based irrigation scheduling are used as a reference point. However, irrigation scheduling is primarily determined by vine stress and soil moisture monitoring data.