Farming management practices aiming at conserving soil moisture have been developed in arid and semiarid-areas facing water scarcity problems. Organic mulching is an effective method to manipulate the crop-growing microclimate increasing crop yield by controlling soil temperature, and retaining soil moisture by reducing soil evaporation. In this sense, the effectiveness of different organic mulching materials (straw mulch and grapevine pruning debris) applied within the row of a vineyard was evaluated on the soil and on the vine in a Tempranillo vineyard located in La Rioja (Spain). Organic mulches were compared with a traditional bare soil management technique (based on the use of herbicides to avoid weed incidence). Mulching coverages favourably influenced the soil water retention throughout all the grapevine vegetative cycle. However, the soil-moisture variation was not the same under different mulching materials, being the straw mulch (SM) the one that retained more water in comparison with grapevine pruning debris (GPD) based-cover. The changes of soil moisture in the upper surface layer (0–10 cm) were highly dynamic, probably due to water vapour fluxes across the soil-atmospheric interface. However, both, SM and GPD reduced these fluctuations as compared with bare soils. A similar trend occurred with soil temperature. Both organic mulches altered soil temperature in comparison with bare soil by reducing soil temperature in summer and raising it in winter. Moreover, the same buffering effect for the temperature on the covered soil also remains in the deeper layers. To conclude, we could see that organic mulching had a positive impact on soil-moisture storage and soil temperature and the extent of this effect depends on the type of mulching materials. These changes led to higher rates of photosynthesis and stomatal conductivity compared to bare soils, also favouring crop growth and grape yields.
Authors: Alicia Pou1, Andreu Mairata1, David Labarga1, Miguel Puelles1, Enrique García-Escudero1 and Joaquín Huete2
1ICVV, Instituto de Ciencias de la Vid y del Vino (CSIC, Universidad de La Rioja, Gobierno de La Rioja), Spain
2Agro-climatic Information Service of La Rioja (SIAR), Gobierno de La Rioja, Spain
Keywords: mulching, bare soil, soil moisture, soil temperature, grape yield