The Crush April 2023 - 1

theCrush
Volume 49 | Issue 4 | April 2023
FEATURE STORY
WATER USE AND REUSE FOR IRRIGATION
WASTEWATER REUSE, RAINWATER CAPTURE, AQUIFER RECHARGE
Article by Ted Rieger
Water availability and water quality for vineyard irrigation
will increasingly be of concern for grapegrowers due to
impacts from climate change and unpredictable levels
of precipitation in California from one season to the
next. With the decline in reliable and adequate quality
well water, and uncertain water supplies and allocations
from state and local water agencies, vineyard and
winery operations are increasingly developing on-farm
opportunities to recycle wastewater, capture rainwater
and recharge groundwater aquifers.
A session at the 2023 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium,
" Doing More, With Even Less, " examined what to
consider regarding quality concerns with irrigation
water from key sources: groundwater, surface water,
and recycled water. UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE)
Water Management and Biometeorology Advisor Mark
Battany observed, " While most places we grow grapes
still have water, it may not be at the quality levels we'd
like to use. " He added, " Recycled
water will be one of our next frontiers
for water use, and it's a source we
traditionally have not made good use
of. " Battany discussed the importance of
measuring soil and water chemistry, and
considerations when using lower-quality
water. Soil electrical conductivity (EC) is
one of the primary measurements used
for soil physical and chemical properties.
EC is an indicator of salinity that can
impede crop growth as soils with
high sodium have poor structure and
drainage. Excess levels of chloride
and boron can impact vine growth
and productivity. Monitoring
pH levels provide
another indicator for
impacts on soil chemistry and characteristics. In addition,
water quality impacts irrigation system components
and operation. Certain minerals (carbonates, iron, and
manganese) and biological organisms can accumulate
and clog emitters.
Wastewater Reuse, Quality Issues
UC Davis and UCCE Enology Specialist Anita
Oberholster provided data and information from studies
on the use of winery wastewater in vineyards. Most wine
production operations use 6 gallons or more of water for
every 1 gallon of wine produced. Winery wastewater is
increasingly becoming a useful source of irrigation water
due to limited supply, and more regulations and costs
related to wastewater disposal. Raw wastewater must be
treated by some method (aeration ponds, constructed
wetlands, worms/BioFiltro systems, or others) before
use in the vineyard. She suggested monitoring water
and soil chemistry for levels of certain cations: sodium
Post-harvest groundwater recharge at Costa Vineyards in Lodi.
Photo: Ted Rieger

The Crush April 2023

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The Crush April 2023 - 1
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