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Will Someone Please Turn the Taps Off !!?? Irrigation in the Vineyard – Why Waste?

Example of Overhead Vineyard Irrigation

On a recent trip to a large vineyard and citrus region in South Australia, I was quite amazed and angry to drive past vineyard after vineyard on a near 40 degree C day, with over-head irrigation systems pumping out litre after litre of precious Murray River water.

Firstly, with the technology available today including drip irrigation, sub surface irrigation, and limited output sprinklers, why is there still a requirement to irrigate agricultural crops with overhead sprinklers?? A large amount of the water pools underneath and in the mid rows of the vines, and evaporates before even being utilized by the vine.

Secondly, the evaporation potential on a 40 degree day in itself is massive. Why irrigate in the hottest part of the day?? I understand that with water license restrictions and tariffs, it may be cheaper or the only time allowed to irrigate by the grower. If this is the case, the controllers of water licenses and allocation need to look at their policies.

There has been such a massive federal swing toward the conservation of water, as residents in the cities of Australia start to realise the seriousness of the situation when they complain their roses are wilting because they have had their water usage restricted.

I do not claim to be an expert on irrigation or the policies involved in allocating water licenses in Australia, nor do I want agricultural production diminished in certain areas because of the lack of water available. It would just be nice to see some common sense prevail.

It angers me to see millions of litres of water pour down storm water drains and into the ocean after a storm, or houses without a rain water tank. There has to be a better way.

About Jono Farrington

Jono Farrington
Jono Farrington holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Oenology) from the University of Adelaide (formely the Roseworthy Agricultural College). He also holds a Post Graduate Degree in Business Management from Monash University. He worked in the wine industry for nearly a decade, completing vintages in Australia and Bordeaux, before setting up an equestrian training centre.

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One comment

  1. I would imagine that they are sprinkling not for irrigation but for evaporative cooling. This is common practice in California, as 40 degree temperatures are stressful for vines and can ruin the fruit.

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