Chapter 15

Water Quality for Irrigating Vineyards

(book excerpts)

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. Important biological properties include algae, microbes and disease organisms. Chemical properties are typically given the most focus when dealing with irrigation water. From the wine grape grower’s standpoint, the most critical chemical water quality parameters 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.

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