Irrigation is a management tool that allows grape growers to directly manipulate vine growth, crop yield and fruit quality. Approximately 87% of the Australian wine grape production comes from regions that rely wholly or partly on irrigation water. Water costs can be as high as AU$3,000 per megaliter and power costs to move water continually increase. Optimising a grape grower’s irrigation system allows for cost efficiency and reduces the risk of unnecessary water and power wastage.
When designing an irrigation system, matching the system to the soil, grape variety and rootstock is key to maximising water use efficiency. Soil texture, structure and depth determine how much water the soil can hold. Different soil types should be grouped separately to allow irrigation applications to be tailored to each soil type. Similarly, different varieties and rootstocks have different irrigation requirements and should also be grouped separately.
Dripper type should also be considered. Pressure compensating drippers are more expensive, but they are able to maintain distribution uniformity in the undulating ground or long rows. Filtration is another key component of an efficient irrigation system, as it removes material that would otherwise block a dripper before it enters the system.
Irrigation system monitoring
Regular monitoring of irrigation system performance is key to detecting any issues before there is an effect on grapevine growth and yield. Distribution uniformity is a measure of how uniformly plants within an irrigation system receive water. Poor uniformity can lead to over-irrigation and/or under-irrigation of vines within the same block.
Irrigation system maintenance
Regular irrigation system maintenance is key to maximising water use efficiency. The most common issues with drip irrigation systems are clogged drippers, blocked filters, deterioration of dripper components and mismanagement of system pressures. Excellent irrigation system performance can be maintained with regular flushing, chlorination and filter maintenance. However, a recent AWRI irrigation survey revealed that 21% of respondents had never performed any pump maintenance, 17% had never flushed their driplines and 11% had never cleaned their filters! Maintenance of the entire water supply system at the end of the irrigating season is also vital in preventing unplanned breakdowns and water loss during the next irrigating season.
At Graetz Irrigation, we provide a full-service irrigation program from system design through to the convenience of our after-sales service, which includes prompt irrigation repairs and maintenance. We’ll make sure your irrigation system is working and that you know how to use it for the best possible results. Call us today on (08) 8562 1333 or visit us online here to discuss all of your irrigation queries.