Irrigation plays a vital role in sustainable wine grape production in South Africa. With dwindling water resources and an increase in competition for water, the need for continuous innovation is greater than ever.
FACT. IRRIGATION IS CRITICAL TO SUSTAINABLE WINE GRAPE PRODUCTION.
“With the exception of a few geographical areas where sustainable dryland production is possible, areas with warmer conditions require irrigated wine grape production to produce quality wine grapes,” viticulturist Leon Dippenaar says.
FACT. RESOURCES ARE DWINDLING AND COMPETITION FOR WATER IS INCREASING.
“Water availability is increasingly limited, and we have to add more and more value to every litre of water we use for wine grape production,” Briaan Stipp of Robertson Winery says.
FACT. CLIMATIC CONDITIONS ARE BECOMING MORE EXTREME.
“Considering increasing temperatures and drought conditions, it’s not only important that we irrigate, but that we irrigate with extreme efficiency,” Leon says.
FACT. DRIP IRRIGATION IS THE MOST EFFICIENT AND EASILY MANAGEABLE WAY TO IRRIGATE WINE GRAPES.
"Thanks to greater water-use efficiency, drip irrigation has added a lot of value to the wine grape industry and as technology improves and our knowledge expands it will continue to do so,” Jaco Lategan of Roodezandt says.
Drip irrigation is a convenient wine grape irrigation method, Leon says. “You can target the root zone directly and apply the right amount of water at exactly the right time. The fact that you can apply nutrition through irrigation is invaluable and the management possibilities allow you to use irrigation as a tool to reach your production goals.”
“Drip irrigation puts the control in your hands,” Briaan says. “Every aspect that impacts grape quality can be controlled through proper drip irrigation scheduling, be it berry size, grape quality or vigour.”