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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Paso Robles vineyard irrigation study provides benchmark data to assist future area groundwater management

  • Author(s): Battany, Mark
  • Tindula, Gwen
  • et al.

Accurate information on irrigation water usage does not exist in many areas where groundwater is the primary water source. This lack of information will hinder efforts to manage these groundwater basins sustainably according to current and future water regulations and policies. Using a low-cost methodology of irrigation-line pressure sensors connected to data loggers, we estimated irrigation applications at 84 vineyard sites in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin over 4 years (2010–2013). We compared irrigation amounts with the preceding winter's rainfall and with the growing season reference evapotranspiration (ETo). Over the study period, the average annual irrigation application was 11.46 inches (291 millimeters). The average annual application correlated inversely to the preceding winter's rainfall, while the irrigation over the growing season (April–October) correlated directly with the ETo over this same period. This study provides an initial data framework that can be used by groundwater sustainability agencies to help manage groundwater in the Paso Robles area. The methodology also could be utilized in other regions to estimate regional irrigation usage while maintaining anonymity for participants.

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