Micro-scale spatial variability in soil heat flux (SHF) in a wine-grape vineyard

N. Agam, W. P. Kustas, J. G. Alfieri, F. Gao, L. M. McKee, J. H. Prueger, L. E. Hipps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In vineyards, hourly soil heat flux (SHF) may account for as much as 30% of net radiation. Therefore, inaccurate estimates of SHF may lead to non-negligible errors when quantifying the surface energy balance. The typical canopy height to width ratio of two along with widely spaced rows (row spacing exceeding canopy height), and leaf biomass concentrated in the upper half of the vine canopy result in variable shading conditions producing sharp, sometimes abrupt, differences in SHF between adjacent points within the interrow space. Drip irrigation, which is also a typical practice in many vineyards in semi-arid regions, adds an additional source of variability in the interrow soil moisture which strongly affects SHF. Lastly, the common practice in Californian wine-grape vineyards to plant cover crop in the interrow, forming two distinct areas below the canopy—bare soil and crop cover, further increases SHF variability in the interrow. This small-scale variability challenges the measurement of SHF in such agrosystems. The objective of the research was to assess the micro-scale (within the interrow between two vine rows) spatial variability in SHF, and to determine which of the three variables—non-uniform (in both space and time) shading patterns, non-uniform surface cover (bare soil vs. cover crop) and non-uniform soil water content (due to the drip irrigation)—is the most significant driver for the local heterogeneity. The variability of incoming solar radiation reaching the ground was found to be the primary source for the spatial and temporal variation of SHF once the vine canopy was fully developed. The water content distribution and the grass cover in the interrow both had minor impacts on the spatial and temporal variation in SHF. It was further found that a transect of five equally distributed sensors across the interrow accurately represented the area-average SHF given by the 11-sensor array, particularly during the growing season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-268
Number of pages16
JournalIrrigation Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science


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