112: How Deficit Irrigation Impacts Soil Quality

Deficit irrigation is used in winegrape production to keep berries small and enhance the flavor of wines, particularly with reds. Joan Davenport, Emerta Professor of Soil Sciences at Washington State University says to get an accurate measure of soil moisture, you need to focus monitoring where the roots are. These measurements are ideally taken about 15 to 20 inches from the vines. Deficit irrigation can lead to a buildup of salt and sodium, negatively impacting soil quality. Salts cause root burning and damage to root systems, hurt microorganisms, and prevents calcium uptake. Joan talks about her research project to compare soil quality between Washington vineyards irrigated with snow melt (surface water) versus ground water (water from wells).


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