Most frequently asked questions about vineyard irrigation
22nd May 2023
Fruit & Vine spoke to irrigation specialist Plantex for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about irrigation in vineyards.
Q: What are the rules around irrigation in vineyards?
A: There are no rules exactly, although there did used to be a ban on irrigating vines but that has been lifted for 10 years or more now. However, it is important that the system is designed correctly and that the vines don’t get over-watered.
Q: What are the different irrigation methods available?
A: Micro sprinklers and drip irrigation are the main two options, with drip being the most economical and effective system.
Q: What are the main benefits of vineyard irrigation?
A: The main benefits of an irrigation system would be to make sure that the vines have water when it is needed so that they do not become too stressed, which could result in a reduction in production. It can also assist in late frost control, as well as doubling up as a fertigation system.
Q: What is fertigation and how can it work alongside irrigation?
A: Fertigation is very beneficial as this is a perfectly measured way of getting the correct feeds directly to the root zone. A fertiliser mixing and injecting system can be added into the irrigation control so feeds can be mixed and added into the water as required. What feeds are used and when to use them will depend on soil types and may require recommendations from specialists in this field.
Q: When is it best to install a vineyard irrigation system?
A: The best time to install an irrigation system would be when the planting or the structure is put in place; to irrigate and fertigate from the start will boost the vines, reduce risk of the young vines drying out and dying and ultimately give you a faster and more guaranteed return on investment. However, an irrigation system can be installed at any time and there is no vineyard that is too big or too small to benefit from irrigation.
Q: Can I install an irrigation system myself or should I use a professional?
A: We strongly recommend having the system designed by a professional as it is critical to get the water hydraulics correct; it is advisable to get the control side installed by professionals too, but the pipes and driplines in the field can be done by the grower if the plan is followed.
Q: What are the ongoing maintenance requirements for an irrigation/fertigation system?
A: Maintenance needed for the system is minimal, but it will need the filters checked, the pumps maintained and the system run up and checked before each season.
Plantex says it is the UK’s leading supplier of commercial irrigation systems. Specialising in design, supply and installation for top fruit/soft fruit growers and irrigation and frost protection systems designed specifically for vineyards. With over 20 years’ experience in the farming and fruit growing industry, Plantex can provide advice to help you get the return on investment from your crop.