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California’s Megadrought to Hit the Wine Industry Hard: New 2021 End-of-Season Irrigation Report Shows Extreme Levels of Soil Water Deficit


Agrology unveils their ‘2021 Drought Irrigation End of Season Report’ and data shows the impact of the drought on Napa and Sonoma vineyards. Report includes advice on how to use predictive and precision viticulture technology to implement deficit irrigation strategies.

agrology logoSonoma, CA, March 7, 2022—Agrology, the leading Predictive Agricultural company and a Public Benefit Corporation, today released the “2021 Agrology Drought Irrigation End of Season Report” for Sonoma and Napa counties. In the report, Agrology’s data shows that 2021 presented an extraordinary level of drought. Across the board, Agrology measured extreme levels of soil water deficit and found that irrigation could sometimes be ineffective due to the severity of the drought. 

“2021 data shows that dry farmed and irrigated vineyards managed to narrowly avoid destructive levels of water stress and those levels challenged even hearty dry-farmed vineyards,” said Adam Koeppel, Co-Founder and CEO of Agrology. “With 2022 predicted to be the driest in 1,200 years, it’s imperative that growers be judicious in their use of irrigation water. Predictive Agriculture technology will help you optimize your water usage down to the drop.”

Agrology reported that up until harvest, soil moisture and water deficit impacts from the drought appeared significant across Napa and Sonoma. Soil Water Potential extremes of nearly -3,000 kPa were recorded at irrigated vineyards, and over -5,000 kPa at dry farmed vineyards. For reference, the University of California recommends initiating irrigation at midday leaf water potential of 1,000-1,500 kPa, corresponding to pre-dawn soil water potential of 1,800-2,300 ko. This indicates that irrigation could not keep up with the drought. In addition, dry farming was challenged with a lack of micro nutrient delivery, as nutrients delivered via drip irrigation systems did not have enough water to reach deep root zones. 

“Unfortunately growers now have to contend with the constant threats of a changing climate,” added Koeppel. “It’s imperative that growers can track and understand all important elements in realtime–from water to soil to smoke. We built Agrology to do just that. One system and one app to give growers a view into what’s happening in that moment and the near future.”

Underground, the Agrology soil probes tracked volumetric moisture, soil water potential, soil conductivity, and soil temperature. In the canopy, the atmospheric array tracked humidity and air temperature. The Agrology Drought Irrigation Report pulled data from these probes and arrays in both dry farmed and irrigated vineyards. 

“We were really impressed by how our growers adapted their strategies to changing regulations and conditions mid-season,” Koeppel continued. “Whether dry farmed or irrigated, our customers used the data to take action and quickly mitigate any issues.”

Agrology leads the market in not only tracking but predicting issues before they begin. The Agrology ground truth sensors gather the precise data on heat, soil and air moisture, VOCs, and weather events. Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is then applied to the data to predict future events and issues. To make data actionable, Agrology delivers it via an easy to understand mobile app. Growers then use the Agrology app to access data in an easy to understand format. The Agrology app also sends farmers notifications on their mobile devices, pinpointing the exact locations at risk, at that moment and in the future. 

The drought irrigation study followed the 2021 Agrology Smoke Exposure Report which found smoke taint for that year not as large of a threat to Napa and Sonoma wineries as in years past. However, now that 2022 has been identified as a megadrought year, lack of water will unfortunately fuel wildfires that will in turn threaten vineyards in these key areas. 

Anyone interested in downloading the 2021 Agrology Drought Irrigation End of Season Report can do so here

Pricing, Subscriptions & Installation

Agrology enables farmers to monitor their acres for the cost of a Netflix subscription. The subscription includes the installation and replacement of all sensors, real-time monitoring, and secure access to a farm’s data via the Agrology mobile app. 

The Agrology sensor nodes install in less than 10 minutes and users alway have access to their data through the app, even when their phone is off network in a field. In addition, data refreshes every 30 minutes and Agrology models curate intuitive and easy to implement alerts and insights that are sent directly to the mobile app. Agrology customers own and control their data, enabling them to put their farm’s data to work for their business. 

If your growing operation struggles with the risks of drought or smoke taint, please reach out to info@agrology.ag

About Agrology

Founded in 2019, Agrology is a Public Benefit Corporation whose mission is to protect the economic viability of farmers in a time of intensifying climate change. Winner of the highly selective National Science Foundation SBIR Award, Agrology’s Predictive Agriculture technology helps growers allocate scarce resources in one easy-to-use system. In addition to water, irrigation, soil, smoke taint, and extreme weather, Agrology is developing next-level capabilities around pest management, spraying and carbon capture that will be announced soon. The company is a proud partner of The National Science Foundation, the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Agrology has offices in Alexandria, Virginia, and Sonoma, California, and can be found online at Agrology.ag.



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