Use of the soils information system for detailed vineyard soil surveys and as a component of precision viticulture

Vineyard soil surveys can be costly and time consuming. The Soils Information System (SIS) provides a set of tools to do a quick evaluation of soil physical properties in the vineyard. First, a system equipped with GPS and EM38 equipment, provides a very precise DEM and a soil electrical conductivity map. Specific sampling points are located for a tractor-mounted geotechnical probe to make soil physical measurements. Sensor readings are used to make precise estimations of soil texture, compaction, moisture and resistivity in the field. The probe reaches a depth of 1.2 to 1.5 meters. The data obtained are used to construct thematic maps, such as soil texture, soil compaction, and soil moisture availability maps. Finally, soil cores can be collected and sent to the laboratory to validate the SIS measurements and perform further analyses when required. This system has been used in vineyards located in different terroir regions of California, France and Spain. Results demonstrated a more precise delineation of soil map units than traditional survey methods using pits and augers. This approach allowed a more precise mapping of soil depth to the underlying rock layers. It also provided the information necessary to design an irrigation system in a newly planted vineyard. In summary, SIS provides a rapid and effective approach to precision mapping of terroir components and will have broad applications for precision viticulture.

Authors: Jean-Jacques LAMBERT (1), Mark STELFORD (2), John SAMUELSON (3) and James O’BRIEN (3)

(1) Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
(2) John Deere Agri Services, Hoffman Estates, IL, USA
(2) Soil and Topography Information (STI), Madison, WI, USA

Email: jjlambert@ucdavis.edu

Keywords: electrical conductivity, soil mapping, Digital Elevation Models (DEM), terroir, soil probe

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