A winery, irrigation pond requires a lot of planning beyond its sheer volume. A pond with sufficient total volume but a shallow depth may lose too much water to evaporation during hot and windy days. Aside from depth and other design questions, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the placement of the pond on the winery or vineyard property. A poorly placed pond is expensive to maintain, may experience extra wear and tear on pumps and can pose a hazard during heavy rainfall. In contrast, a well-placed pond enriches the entire property without putting it at risk, while potentially reducing energy costs related to irrigation. Here are some tips on finding just the right spot for a winery irrigation pond.
Gravity Feed for Low Energy Delivery
Many vineyards are located on sloped properties to encourage the rapid drainage that grape vines need to thrive. Since grapes have relatively shallow root systems, even when decades old, they don’t like a lot of standing water after every rain. If you’re lucky enough to own or lease the land above the slopes where the grapes are located, that is typically one of ideal spots for locating an irrigation pond. Ponds located above the fields allow for convenient, low energy, gravity feed rather than energy intensive pumping. If your ponds are located downhill from the fields instead, you may find it more useful to pump the water to holding tanks uphill. Using electricity when it is low cost, or abundantly available in the case of alternative energy, allows you to save money on irrigation costs while still using gravity-fed equipment.
Even if you’re able to place your pond above your grapes and let gravity do most of the work, you’ll still need some kind of power source to run pumps when they’re needed. Ponds used for turning wastewater into irrigation water, or even just for holding wastewater clean enough for direct reuse, also need steady aeration to keep bacterial balances correct. Electricity is the most common option for powering pumps and other irrigation pond equipment, but it’s far from the only one. Don’t feel limited by current electricity supplies at the winery or vineyard site. Solar power stations, including designs that float on the surface of the pond, have also proven viable for irrigation use. For areas where electricity is impractical and solar isn’t steady enough, there’s no need to turn to a noisy generator. Propane powered pumps and irrigation equipment skip the step of needing intermediary power sources, allowing you to pump water steadily from even the most remote irrigation ponds. Don’t let the proximity to existing power lines limit your pond placement choices on a vineyard or winery.
Digging and lining a new pond and then waiting for rainfall to fill it is perfectly acceptable, but it could take years in the arid climates popular for wine growing. For example, the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of France receives an average rainfall of only around 30 inches per year. Even with perfect capture, that results in only a few thousand gallons per acre of open surface area per year. In most cases, wineries must turn to other water sources to fill their irrigation ponds. Rain may be enough to top them off after the initial fill, or you may need to constantly refresh the pond with a steady water supply to keep up with demand. Wells, streams, rivers, springs, storm water catchment areas, and wastewater discharge areas are all good options for supplying an irrigation pond.
Adding to the View
Don’t forget about the potential for getting more than one use out of the same irrigation pond. Well-built ponds are beautiful water features that add to the visual appeal of the winery’s landscape; even if they’re used for holding and processing wastewater for reuse. Aeration, proper depth, and other water treatment methods can keep even wastewater looking and smelling attractive enough to entice visitors to stroll by the pond’s shore. Since many wineries host tastings and tours to increase direct sales to consumers, irrigation ponds should appear natural and well-kept if they are visible from any distance. If guests will have closer visibility of the pond, or potentially be accessed for boat trips, water quality must be maintained at a higher level than what is required for more than just irrigation purposes.
No matter where an irrigation pond is eventually located, it needs a good, impermeable liner to act as its base. This is especially true if the water is stored high above fields and structures to take advantage of gravity fed irrigation systems. Seepage from a pond near a slope could cause erosion or even damaging landslides. Keep water where it’s needed by lining each irrigation pond with a flexible liner from BTL Liners. Our liners work well for all agricultural needs, including winery irrigation systems.