Using a Remote Sensing data based toolkit to monitor vine water use and water status for real time irrigation scheduling in California vineyards

Maria Mar Alsina, Kyle Knipper, Martha Anderson, WIlliam Kustas, Nicolas Bambach, Lynn McKee, Joe Alfieri, James O'DOnnel, Jessica Parsons, Brodie McCarthy, Lawrence Hipps, Andrew McElrone, Feng Gao, Alfonso Torres, Mac McKee, Nurit Agam, Luis Sanchez, Nick Dokoozlian, John Prueger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Grapevines are one of the major drivers of agriculture in California, representing a production equivalent to 6.25 billion in 2018. Water is scarce, and increasingly intense and prolonged drought periods, like one that recently occurred in the 2012-2016 period, may happen with greater frequency. Consequently, there is a need to develop irrigation management decision tools to help growers maximize water use while maintaining productivity. Furthermore, grapevines are deficit irrigated, and a correct management of the vine water status during the season is key to achieve the target yield and quality. Traditionally, viticulturists use visual clues and/or leaf level indicators of vine water status to regulate the water deficit along the season. However, these methods are time-consuming and only provide discrete data that do not represent the often-high spatial variability of vineyards. Remote sensing techniques may represent a fast real-time decision-making tool for irrigation management, able to extensively cover multiple vineyards with low human or economic investments. While growers currently calculate the vine water demands using the reference evapotranspiration from a weather station located in the region and a crop coefficient, usually from literature, they don't have any means to measure or estimate the actual water used by the vines. Knowing the actual evapotranspiration (ET) in real-time and at a sub-field scale would provide essential information to monitor vine water status and adjust the irrigation amounts to the real water needs. The aim of the GRAPEX (Grape Remote sensing Atmospheric Profile and Evapotranspiration eXperiment) project, has been to provide growers with an irrigation toolkit that integrates the spatial distribution of vine water use and water status. The project focuses on grapevines, but it will be easily extrapolated to orchards and other crop types.We present the results of a pilot experiment where we applied the scientific developments of the GRAPEX project into a practical tool that growers can use for irrigation management. We run this pilot experiment over 6 commercial grapevine blocks, located in Cloverdale, Sonoma, CA. During the 2019 growing season, we provided the viticulturists with weekly maps of actual ET calculated using the DisALEXI model, Sentinel-2 Normalized Difference Vegetation and Normalized Vegetation Water Indices as well as local weather data, forecasted ET and soil moisture. The data were delivered weekly in a dashboard, including spatial and tabular views, as well as an irrigation recommendation derived from the past week's vine water use and water status data. Along with the remote sensing data, we took periodic measurements of leaf area index, leaf water potential, and gas exchange to evaluate the irrigation practices. We compared the irrigation prescription based on the provided data with the grower's practices. The total season irrigation ranged between 70 and 120 mm depending on the block, and our irrigation recommendations deviated between 10 and 30 mm from the growers' practices, also depending on the block. This analyzes the performance of the ET toolkit in assisting irrigation scheduling for improving water use efficiency of the vineyard blocks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22248,
StatePublished - May 2020

Publication series

NameGeophysical Research Abstracts EGU General Assembly


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