The Sonoma County Water Agency works closely with the agricultural community to inform and educate growers about using less water. To promote adoption of water conservation technologies in Sonoma County’s thriving wine industry, the Agency is sponsoring two vineyard demonstration projects at Hoot Owl Creek-Alexander Valley Vineyards. These projects will utilize state-of-the-art irrigation and cooling technologiesto illustrate water and energy conservation opportunities in vineyards.
The demonstrations in 2009 and 2010 were conducted on 3,000 acres of the Alexander Valley Vineyards.
The nozzles on the irrigation systems were replaced with larger nozzles that delivered 55 GPM and a variety of conditions were tested, including:
- Providing one emitter per vine
- Using two emitters per vine to spread the water pattern
- Daytime irrigation treatment
- High Volume (deep), infrequent watering
- Light-moderate and moderate-severe stress levels of 15 bars before water application
To record data and control irrigation schedules, the Eko Pro Network solar powered radio and sensory unit and Ranch Systems were utilized to remotely measure and transmit soil moisture profiles. The demonstrations highlighted new technologies as well as older, less efficientirrigation practices , which allowed the community to compare the options.
“The purpose of the demonstration projects is to provide a venue for both education and two-way communication on the subject of vineyard water use,” said Mark Greenspan, demonstration manager and owner/viticulturist of Advanced Viticulture, LLC. “We will show growers how they can easily save water, energy and money while still producing excellent wine grapes.” In addition to managing these demonstration projects, Greenspan is working with SCWA to develop and distribute irrigation best management practices to growers, develop further irrigation demonstration projects, and convene targeted outreach to growers within the Russian River Watershed.