A precision irrigation system makes it possible to maintain set production and quality standards even in the most difficult vintages by optimizing water use. An example of this was the 2022 vintage, where despite severe drought, the precision irrigation mode made it possible to achieve higher production in the areas of the vineyard with higher water requirements than on-farm management and non-irrigated, with grapes with superior quality characteristics. What does precision irrigation mean? Doing the right thing, at the right time and in the right amounts. To achieve this goal, a few key steps must be observed.
For proper irrigation system design, a thorough analysis of soil characteristics and their variability within the vineyard must first be performed. This can be done using state-of-the-art technologies, such as those based on the acquisition of electrical resistivity, a quantity strongly correlated with the main physicochemical parameters of the soil. The indications thus obtained make it possible to divide the vineyard into homogeneous zones, within which the hydrological properties of the soil are uniform. Each homogeneous zone will finally be characterized through a soil survey. The entire service is offered by specialized companies. Based on the information gathered, the pitch of the drippers will vary within the vineyard to meet the actual water needs of the defined homogeneous management zones. Following this, it is necessary to use decision systems that tell us when to use the system. Irriframe ANBI, which is based on a classical water balance, and Manna by Rivulis, which also integrates to satellite data, were tested in the project. Both systems were appropriately calibrated with proximal measurements of the actual water status of the plant.