Chapter 15

Water Quality for Irrigating Vineyards

(book excerpts)

Grape growers utilize a variety of sources of water for irrigation. Unfortunately, the quality of these water supplies is often overlooked as a potential source of plant growth issues. The water quality used for irrigation is essential for successful wine grape growing. Poor water quality can affect grapevine growth, and can even result in the gradual death of the vines. Water quality properties can be divided into three categories: physical, biological and chemical. Critical physical properties include suspended solids and temperature. Suspended solids such as soil particles are potential problems since these particulates can clog irrigation nozzles and cause abrasion of irrigation equipment. Biological properties of interest include the presence of iron fixing bacteria, plant pathogens or algae. Iron fixing bacteria can grow in irrigation systems and clog emitters but are usually associated with excessive iron levels in the water. Plant pathogens, such as water molds, can become an issue in irrigation water, especially if the irrigation water is recycled. Chemical properties of irrigation water are the properties most often tested because they can cause significant production issues, and the information gained from the test can be used immediately in crop management strategies. From the wine grape grower’s standpoint, the most critical chemical water quality properties are soluble salts, hardness, sodium and chloride concentration, and pH. In a few cases, elements such as iron, boron, and fluoride are also considered critical parameters.

Click on the following topics for more information on water quality for irrigating vineyards.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • Irrigation Water Testing and Analysis
  • Analysis Units
  • Salinity Hazard
  • Salinity Effect
  • Toxicity Effect
  • Factors Affecting Grapevine Damage
  • Soluble Cations and Anions
  • Measuring and Classifying the Salinity Hazard
  • Managing Irrigation Water High in Salts
  • Sodium Hazard
  • Measuring and Classifying the Sodium Hazard
  • Water Salinity
  • Adjusted Sodium Adsorption Ratio
  • Residual Sodium Carbonate
  • Water pH
  • Alkalinity
  • Measuring Alkalinity
  • Managing Irrigation Water High in Carbonates
  • Acid Requirements to Reduce Carbonates
  • Nutrients Added by Acidification
  • Synthetic Scale Inhibitors
  • Water Hardness
  • Limescale Potential
  • Removing Lime from Water
  • Specific Ions
  • Chloride
  • Boron
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Nitrogen
  • Selected References