We’re going underground with the slogan: “Water to the roots!”
Because, when you think about it, where you really want the water for your vines is underground, where the roots are.
That’s why the drip lines on our new vineyard development on Selmes Road, Marlborough, are being installed 300mm below the soil surface.
Burying your irrigation system does bring some challenges, such as the apertures becoming clogged with roots as they seek a direct line to the water source. To keep the roots at bay, the apertures are impregnated with copper. Laying pipe underground is also slightly more expensive than stringing the irrigation lines above ground, as we currently do. So why bother?
It’s all to achieve greater sustainability.
For one thing, we’ll reduce our water use, because less of it will evaporate. With the top layer of the soil being drier, there also won’t be so much to feed the shallow roots of weeds. With less weed growth, we can save on driving machinery up and down our vineyard rows. And we can further cut down our use of sprays.
On top of that, having our drip lines underground will also mean less (accidental) damage to the pipes by machinery, and less (very deliberate!) damage to the pipes by rabbits.
The plan is to retrofit more vineyard blocks with underground drip-lines over time, especially our expanding organic vineyard holdings.