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Qualitative precision irrigation in the vineyard

Hernán OJEDA, UE999 Pech Rouge, INRA, F-11430 Gruissan, France, Synthesis article about the intervention held at Enoforum, 13-15 March, Piacenza, Ital

The current environmental changes and viti-viniculture crisis have caused an adaptive evolution of the cultural techniques applied in Mediterranean vineyards. The increases of average temperatures as well as the significant increases of evapotranspiration, provoke a rising dryness during the vegetative cycle of the vine, as a result of a highly and precociously deficient hydric balance. The viticulturists are increasingly faced with the following dilemma: either accepting the consequences of severe hydric restrictions or using irrigation with the aim of avoiding severe problems linked to decreases in the yield and quality of the harvest. From the scientific knowledge principally developed over the last fifteen years, it is now possible to propose reasoned irrigation models to viticulturists, based on the control of the hydric state. This last point represents a fundamental element for the explanation of the physiological functioning of the vine, while taking into account the production objectives (yield, quality, type of wine, etc.). This approach is increasingly used in countries where irrigation is an indispensable technique for viticulture and is beginning to respond to a tangible demand of a large part of the European viticultural sector. This article presents a series of information that have to do with the effects of different levels of hydric restriction on the yield and quality of the grapes and wines. It also describes a general and optimal model for the vine, in accordance with the phenological state and proposes also different irrigation strategies according to the objectives of the vineyard. Finally, this article provides some practical examples of commercial vineyards situated in different viti-vinicultural countries.
Published on 25/05/2008
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