DDD Conference

Dr. William Kustas

GRAPEX: A Multidisciplinary Research and Applications Project to Improve Vineyard Water Management under a Changing Climate

U.S. Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Research Service, USA 

The cultivation of wine grapes is worldwide with over 7 million hectares of vineyards distributed over 100 countries on six continents. California and other western states, as well as water-limited regions across the globe, are facing serious water shortages due to drought and overdraft of major aquifers. Regulated deficit irrigation by monitoring actual water use is key to improve water use efficiency, conserve water, and lead to sustainable production, while remaining economically viable.  The GRAPEX (Grape Remote sensing Atmospheric Profile and Evapotranspiration eXperiment) project goal is developing remote sensing-based toolkit for monitoring vine water use (Evapotranspiration, ET) and vine water status to efficiently use and conserve water. We combined earth observations from satellites together with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in energy balance modeling systems utilizing spectral and thermal-based approaches. Model results have been validated with biophysical, soil moisture and micrometeorological measurement of fluxes from leaf to canopy to whole vineyard blocks at selected experimental vineyards spanning a significant north-south climate gradient and containing different vine varieties, trellis designs, soil properties and topography.  A pilot irrigation experiment was conducted over multiple high-value wine grape vineyards comparing the water use and irrigation management strategy currently run and operated by E&J Gallo with the model (ET toolkit) integrated into the existing irrigation scheduling dashboard.  Results indicate that the ET toolkit can provide operational capabilities for irrigation scheduling requiring minimal ground-based vineyard monitoring.  This presentation will provide an overview of the GRAPEX project, the key research findings and lessons learned.


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