Published in Crops & Soils Magazine
By Peter Jacoby, plant ecologist, and Xiaochi Ma, Ph.D. student, Washington State University, Pullman
In 2015, a project was launched to evaluate the potential for using a new form of sub-surface drip irrigation. Rather than applying micro-irrigation through horizontal buried lines, drip irrigation was delivered into vertical tubes placed 1 to 4 ft into the rootzone soil. Juice and wine grapes were selected as the model plant systems for these proof-of-concept trials.
Water is the lifeblood for irrigated agricultural regions lying east of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Much of this water originates from the annual accumulation of snow in the mountains and subsequent runoff to rivers and impound facilities that distribute water for summer irrigation. Combined effects of population growth, public awareness of climatic fluctuation, and environmental and natural resources use issues, have created concern and anxiety about future water availability among growers, irrigation districts, regulatory agencies, and legislative bodies. Increasingly, future adjudications of this precious resource could limit sustainability and growth of irrigated agricultural acreage unless better methods are found to enhance crop water use efficiency (Washington State Wine Commission, 2018).
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