Cover Crops and Water Use in Vineyards (SARE)

A decline in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin has increased awareness of water conservation practices in vineyards. This project investigated whether and to what degree the depletion of soil moisture over the winter by certain vineyard cover crop practices might affect the quantity of groundwater pumped for irrigation to replace these losses. While cover crops have many benefits, the cost of those cover crops in terms of water use and associated pumping costs to replace soil moisture that may be depleted due to the cover crop is not well understood on the Central Coast. This study consisted of two experiments conducted over two seasons. One experiment investigated whether the timing and method of terminating a grass cover crop affected the depletion of soil moisture over the winter. The second experiment evaluated the effects of cover crop selection (species) on the depletion of soil moisture over the winter. As far as can be measured by this set of experiments with this design, neither the timing and method of terminating a grass cover crop nor the selection of cover crop species differed consistently in terms of soil moisture depletion compared to clean cultivation or fallow/no-till controls.

Cover Crops and Water Use: Educational Resources

Special Thanks to the Following:

Funding Agency

Western Sustainable agriculture Research and Education

Cooperating Growers

Niner Wine Estates
Treasury Wine Estates
Derby Wine Estates
Opolo Vineyards
J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines 
 

Learn More about Sustainable Vineyard Practices