Soil and portable sensors for the management of the irrigation and berry ripening in cover cropped table grape vineyards

G. Ferrara, A. Mazzeo, R. Torres
Puglia region, southern Italy, is the main producer in Italy of table grape with 547,370 tons on an area of 24,165 ha and 'Italia' is the most important seeded variety cultivated in the region. In table grape vineyards, the inter-row is generally tilled to control weeds whereas herbicides are applied in the row. The increasing concern about the application of chemicals and the intensive use of tillage in viticulture stimulated the use of alternative ways of weeds control. The aim of this 2-year research (2015-2016) was to study how two different vineyard floor management practices (tillage and cover crop) affected the vine and the irrigation management, by also using remote sensors for optimal scheduling. Data of the vines showed some differences between the tilled and the cover cropped plots for some parameters. The presence of the cover crop, although only in the inter-row, showed some effect on the vine, in particular reducing the vegetative growth. However, the presence of the cover crop did not affect the yield of the vine, which was similar between the two plots for both years. The irrigation volumes in both tilled and cover cropped plots also showed non-significant differences, thus indicating no effects of the cover crop on vine water consumption. Moreover, the irrigation volumes used according to the soil remote sensors resulted significantly lower than the irrigation volumes used by the farmer what suggests different properties of soil in terms of water behavior. The SCiO™ molecular sensor tested for monitoring the ripening of the grapes showed promising results, but further model validation using fruit from a wider range of variability is required. A rapid and non-distructive sensor like the SCiO™ would enable a useful field application to provide data of fruit ripening for the best harvesting time.
Ferrara, G., Mazzeo, A. and Torres, R. (2021). Soil and portable sensors for the management of the irrigation and berry ripening in cover cropped table grape vineyards. Acta Hortic. 1311, 521-526
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1311.66
'Italia', datalogger, remote sensor, clover, vegetative growth, yield

Acta Horticulturae