Dr Philip Myburgh’s Handbook for Irrigation of Wine Grapes in South Africa is essentially a summary of the wine grape irrigation research carried out in the country over a period of more than 50 years. The aim of the research was to develop irrigation guidelines, particularly with regard to the optimisation of wine quality and maximising water use efficiency.
“The primary focus of the book is therefore on practical irrigation, rather than the physiology concerning grapevine water relations,” says Dr Myburgh, who is a senior researcher at ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij.
The new book covers the entire continuum, from climate and soil through to the grapevine and finally the wine in the bottle. It is a comprehensive work that addresses all the aspects wine growers, advisors and planners would like to know more of.
Willem Botha, marketing manager at Netafim, says they are proud of Netafim’s involvement in the book. The company gave financial support which allowed for the publication of the book in hard copy format.
“Irrigation is a critical component of successful wine grape farming,” says Willem. “Philip’s book will be an important tool for any wine grape grower – it will be his/her irrigation bible of wine grapes. The grower will not only be able to obtain answers to relevant questions, but will also be guided to best practises.
“Philip’s research over the years has been world-class and this book recognises his efforts, both locally and internationally. Our involvement in this project is a small contribution to help distinguish South Africa as a leader in irrigation. For Netafim as a company, it is vital to be involved in innovative initiatives.
“As Dean Kamen said: ‘Every once in a while a new technology, an old problem and a big idea turn into an innovation.’ This book is the link between the old problem of how much and when to irrigate and using technology to succeed in your goals!”
Over and above the chapters on irrigation systems and irrigation scheduling, the chapter on irrigation water quality deserves a special mention. Wastewater use for irrigation is becoming a reality, as it relieves pressure on other water resources. The book provides guidelines based on experimental data on how to use such water without harming the grapevine, wine or environment.
Not just an ordinary book
Dr Myburgh says at an academic level, lecturers can use this handbook with confidence as study material for students. It is envisaged that the book will be a useful guide for present and future generations of wine grape growers, as well as viticulture students.
“The book brings together information that has been ‘fragmented’ among many articles, projects, observations and reports over a long period of time,” says Dr Johan van Zyl, former director of the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij.
Dr Myburgh succeeded in converting information into knowledge that he then presents as practical recommendations. The book is furthermore also a testimony and tribute to the excellent quality and growth in the volume of irrigation research for the wine industry in South Africa.
Dr Van Zyl says the author never loses sight of his end goal, namely practical recommendations, and useful and interesting background information is given in all chapters. The reader will enjoy reading more about terms such as water potential, deficit irrigation, and anisohydric water stress – terms often used, but not well-understood by us all.
The Handbook for Irrigation of Wine Grapes in South Africa will become a standard reference book and a landmark in the often muddy waters of irrigation recommendations and practices. It will be available free of charge to people who attend the current series of VinPro information days. – Hugo Lochner, Farmbiz