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

  • Ecological Considerations of Vineyard Development
    Apr 9, 2018 | Dan Rodrigues | 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo
    Dan Rodrigues, Owner/Viticulturist of Vina Quest LLC talks about ways to reduce the environmental impacts of developing a vineyard and preventing future pest problems through careful planning and paying attention to the unique topography and ecosystems of individual parcels of land.
  • Q&A-Ecological Considerations of Vineyard Development
    Apr 9, 2018 | Dan Rodrigues | 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo
    Dan Rodrigues, Owner/Viticulturist of Vina Quest LLC, takes questions about ways to reduce the environmental impacts of developing a vineyard and preventing future pest problems through careful planning and paying attention to the unique topography and ecosystems of individual parcels of land.
  • Slides for Ecological Considerations of Vineyard Development
    Apr 9, 2018 | Dan Rodrigues | 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo
    Dan Rodrigues, Owner/Viticulturist of Vina Quest LLC talks about ways to reduce the environmental impacts of developing a vineyard and preventing future pest problems through careful planning and paying attention to the unique topography and ecosystems of individual parcels of land.
  • Regulatory Agency Permitting and Ecological Considerations for Vineyard Operations
    Mar 27, 2018 | Brian Dugas | 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo
    Principal Biologist, Terra Verde Environmental Consulting talks about regulatory agency reviews, permit requirements, road/culvert designs, permitting strategies, and ecological considerations for vineyard development and management at the 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo.
  • 32: Conserving Irrigation Water
    Mar 15, 2018
    Irrigation is just one of many things on a grower’s mind on any given day. To help growers conserve irrigation water in vineyards, Vineyard Team has launched a project to investigate how growers make decisions to adopt agricultural water BMPs.
  • Introduction to Conservation Planning
    Feb 26, 2018 | Margy Lindquist | 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo
    Slides from Margy Lindquist's talk about the importance of conservation planning as part of vineyard development at the 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo.
  • Upper Salinas Las Tablas Resource Conservation District
    Feb 26, 2018 | Andrew Johnson | 2017 Sustainable Ag Expo
    Slides from Project Manager Andrew Johnson's talk about how the Upper Salinas-Las Tablas RCD and Resource Conservation Districts can help growers protect and improve their land during vineyard development.
  • Guideline for Pesticide (Hazardous Waste) Disposal
    Jan 11, 2018 | San Luis Obispo County Agriculture Department
    Contacts, definitions, and processes for disposing of pesticides (hazardous waste in San Luis Obispo County.
  • 25: Under-Vine Cover Crops
    Dec 7, 2017
    Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel, Associate Professor of Viticulture at Cornell University, explains how growing cover crops in the vine row can devigorate vines and protect water quality.
  • Liquid Fertilizer Calculations
    Dec 4, 2017 | Craig Macmillan, PhD
    Calculating how much fertilizer to apply or was applied is easy using these simple steps.
  • Liquid Fertilizer Rate/Application Worksheet
    Dec 4, 2017 | Craig Macmillan, PhD
    Use this helpful spreadsheet to calculate how much liquid fertilizer to apply or was applied.
  • 24: Measuring Water and Nitrogen Use
    Nov 16, 2017
    Paul Crout, Vineyard Manager and Viticulturist at Vineyard Professional Services explains why keeping records of water and Nitrogen use in the vineyard is important and how to use that information to best manage your crop.
  • 21: Investing in Sustainable Ag Research
    Oct 5, 2017
    Stacie Clary, Communications Manager for Western SARE discusses the program and some of its many successes from funding grower-lead projects to find sustainable solutions to agricultural problems.
  • Floor Management for Soil Health
    Sep 5, 2017 | Craig Macmillan, Ph.D. | Technical article
    A fact sheet about cover crops and tillage.
  • Irrigation Consumer Bill of Rights
    Sep 5, 2017 | ITRC | Publication
    A list of questions you should discuss with your irrigation dealer before purchasing an irrigation system. This will help you make better decisions about system design options. You will also understand the obligations of both yourself and the dealer when designing your irrigation system.
  • The Vineyard Team Growers' Report, July 2017
    Jul 26, 2017 | Craig Macmillan, PhD
    The crop looks good and canopy growth is strong.
  • What is Sustainable Agriculture?
    Jul 10, 2017
    Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • High Tech Tools in the Vineyard Episode 13
    Jun 1, 2017
    Doug Beck, Science Advisor for Monterey Pacific Inc., talks about the different types of technology used in the vineyard.
  • Conservation Plan Template
    Mar 28, 2017
    A template for creating your own plan to better manage the natural resources in and around your vineyard.
  • Assessing and Managing Salinity in Grapes
    Feb 27, 2017 | Michael Cahn | Managing Salinity Tailgate
    These slides explain the terminology used in lab reports regarding soil and water salinity issues and include equations for calculating leach requirements and leaching fractions.
  • Drip Irrigation System Startup: Recommended Procedures
    Feb 6, 2017 | Craig Macmillan, PhD
    To make sure your drip irrigation system is going to operate as your expect it to, follow these steps before the irrigation season arrives.
  • ILRP & Statewide Permit for Industrial Stormwater Discharges
    Nov 15, 2016 | Laurel Warddrip
    Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program and Statewide Permit for Industrial Storm Water Discharges
  • SGMA
    Nov 15, 2016 | Erik Ekdahl
    State implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Cover Crop Species Experiment Fact Sheet
    Oct 26, 2016 | Craig Macmillan
  • Cover Crop Termination Experiment Fact Sheet
    Oct 26, 2016 | Craig Macmillan
  • Resource Conservation District (RCD) Services
    Aug 23, 2016 | Vineyard Team
  • Cover Crops to Reduce Water Use
    Aug 16, 2016 | Craig Macmillan, Ph.D.
    Do cover crops deplete soil moisture enough during the winter and spring months to increase the amount of irrigation water required during the growing season? These two experiments suggest that the species of cover crop and when and how it is terminated do not have this effect.
  • Summary of Grape Irrigation Points
    May 1, 2012 | Dr. Charles Burt | ITRC Cal Poly