Irrigation Management Best Practices For Vineyards
As a modern vineyard operator, you already know the current farming challenges. Besides the apparent summer heatwaves and occasional but destructive winds, water scarcity has become the primary issue of concern. Unpredictable rain patterns and the drastic decline of water in rivers and lakes have made grape production a challenge.
You need to incorporate irrigation management best practices to make maximum use of the water available and maintain your productivity. However, maintaining irrigation practices that can enable you to remain productive in the current climate is not easy. First, you need to conduct detailed research on approaches to introduce efficiency to your irrigation system.
What are the Top Irrigation Management Best Practices?
As irrigation technology evolves, you're likely to come across several solutions that can enable you to maximize the little water available while maintaining your productivity. However, your tastes and preferences and the available resources will inform the best irrigation management practice to consider.
1. Irrigation Scheduling
There's no doubt that there are multiple irrigation management practices that you can incorporate into your vineyard today. However, one of the most appropriate management practices that you cannot ignore is irrigation scheduling.
As you already know, vineyard farmers have been watering their plants through guesswork. A farmer 'feels' when it is the right time to water their field without consulting any data. This irrigation management approach has led to costly labor and low output for an extended period. Only the availability of sufficient water has given it an edge over the years.
However, today, water is a scarce resource. Therefore, you need to adopt precision approaches when watering. You need to have basic information and understand when and how to water. You need every drop to contribute to your output and lower production cost. This is only possible if you incorporate irrigation scheduling in your vineyard.
2. Improve Your Drip System for Efficiency
Undoubtedly, the drip irrigation system has consistently proved to be the most appropriate watering system for vineyards. It maximizes water availability while reducing surface runoff. In addition, experts recommend this irrigation strategy because it prevents fungal diseases while promoting high yield.
However, you need to work on approaches that can enhance the efficiency of your drip system. It doesn't matter whether it is working as expected. You can always find fault with your system, which you need to eliminate.
For example, you need to conduct regular inspections for leaks in your drip laterals. Chances are multiple leakage areas are irrigating areas without plants. Again, this is something you should quickly address as it helps to eliminate unnecessary water losses.
Weekly drip inspection can also help detect serious areas that you can help solve through repair and maintenance. Ensure you thoroughly check critical drip irrigation system areas such as filters, valves, and emitters and ensure they perform at optimum levels.
3. Irrigate Your Field at Night
The time you are irrigating your field plays a critical role in determining the amount of water you'll need and how effective each drop will be. Irrigating at night has always been an archaic approach to modern farming, but it makes sense and can help you save some dollars.
At night, the majority of your neighboring farmers are not irrigating. Therefore, water levels in the river or the lake are high, and there's less turbulence. As a result, your electrical pump will not strain to draw water. This can save you several thousands of dollars that significantly change your farming balance sheet.
It is common knowledge that irrigating at night will help reduce excessive water evaporation from the soil. This is because both soil and surrounding air are extremely cold, which means that all water sifts into the soil. Therefore, your plants will have sufficient time to use moisture in the soil before the sun strikes and evaporation takes the moisture away.
4. Introduce Weather Sensors
You need to take advantage of the prevailing weather conditions as much as possible. Any moisture content or the possibility of rainfall will help you save on irrigation. However, you can only do this if you have accurate weather sensors that can provide actionable tips.
You may have an automatic irrigation system set to water any time of the day or night when your plants need water. However, you don't want this system triggered when your crops get sufficient water from rain.
Any opportunity to bring free and sufficient water into your field should help you save money and improve your yield. However, weather sensors can also enable you to understand when it is too hot for maximum irrigation to keep your crops in the best shape.
5. Invest in Smart Irrigation Tech
The methods that have been discussed above are critical in enabling you to maximize the water available while optimizing the environmental condition for maximum impact. However, with the current changes in technology, you need to go an extra step and adopt innovative irrigation technology in your vineyard.
As you've already seen, smart innovations have already helped transform other sectors. In the same way, smart irrigation systems are proving to be game-changers in crop production. You should not be left behind in adopting innovative techniques to take your irrigation approaches to the next level.
Essentially, smart irrigation systems have been developed with the current water scarcity in mind. Therefore, these systems are tailor-made to water your crops with minimal water wastage. In addition, the fact that innovative irrigation systems are data-driven means your plants will only get water when they need it and at accurate volumes.
Lumo is a stand-out smart irrigation system designed to save water, reduce operational costs, and take your crop quality to unprecedented levels. As a result, vineyard operators can efficiently irrigate with precision, which is critical in maximizing profitability in the competitive vineyard industry.