Irrigation Challenges on the Vineyard

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Efficient irrigation during these drought years is very important. Considerations have to be made for the best use of water and preventing any waste. 

For example, we’ve installed a second irrigation line that feeds only plants with special needs so we don’t irrigate an entire row needlessly. We manually switch the lines from the first to second line on every one of our 109 rows. We’ve walked the vineyard and counted every single emitter so that we can calculate exactly how much water we’re using.

 Jake helping switch the irrigation lines.

Jake helping switch the irrigation lines.

Efficient irrigation also requires us to travel the vineyard every time we turn on the water to make sure there aren’t any problems. 

What problems do we expect to see? Well, for one, emitters disappear either because they blow out when the water is turned on or our woodland friends have pulled them off to get access to the water in the hoses. It’s not terribly surprising when they have chewed through the thin spaghetti hoses or even the regular above-ground irrigation hose. 

We believe a symptom of the continuing drought is when gophers have actually chewed through the heavy line two feet underground, desperately searching for water. We found that when we saw water bubbling up from the ground. Thinking it was a broken pipe, we dug down and found the hole surrounded by teeth marks. 

 Thirsty gophers chew through the irrigation line.

Thirsty gophers chew through the irrigation line.

Fortunately, the check-ups we do help us to locate these problems quickly. We prefer to irrigate at night to reduce evaporation but it does make it harder to do because it’s…well…dark. We’d rather find and fix the problems immediately.

Farming is a constant balancing act and during these challenging times, that becomes a bit of a three-ring circus. Barnum and Bailey’s got nothing on us.