Swiss “IrriSalgesch” project demonstrates water savings potential of AQUA4D® technology in irrigating vineyards

The Swiss municipality of Salquenen, with the AQUA4D and partners including AquaSpy, launched the project “IrriSalgesch” in 2022. The IrriSalgesch project investigated irrigation water savings potential using AQUA4D® water treatment technology. The water savings through AQUA4D were determined by comparing two plots with drip irrigation, one with normal water and one with AQUA4D-treated water, where the amount of water was adjusted through monitoring to the exact needs of the vines.

Switzerland is considered the “water castle” of Europe, but the effects of global warming and the unpredictability of the climate are being felt here, resulting in risk of water shortage. In the municipality of Salgesch (Valais) as well as other communities, there is already an acute risk of a water shortage that threatens local agricultural production. 

How precipitation is distributed in this Swiss region has changed. Now there is less rain in the summer, more in the winter, and most damaging, less in the form of snow. In this most recent winter (2022 – 2023), ski resorts throughout the Alps have shut down due to lack of snow, leaving local citizens and agricultural growers concerned about the spring and summer to come.

The current context of climate change and increasingly frequent periods of drought underlines the interest and urgency of evaluating the contribution of technologies in agriculture, like AQUA4D and AquaSpy, for a better efficiency in the use of resources, especially water and energy.

Monitoring of soil moisture and water status

The water savings achieved with AQUA4D® were evaluated by comparing 2 plots of vineyards irrigated with drip irrigation, one with normal water and one with water treated with AQUA4D®, with a monitoring system allowing to optimize the quantities of water applied according to the exact needs of the vineyard. AquaSpy sensors were installed in the test plots in order to track the irrigation effects on soil moisture. A pressure chamber and additional sensors measured leaf potential and drones gathered overhead overview data.

An additional water saving target of 20% on top of the savings achieved with drip irrigation was set for the side treated with AQUA4D®, and this without any decrease in yield and production quality.

Project participants recognized that by the end of the year 2022 that:

  • The AQUA4D® treatment saved 20% more water compared to a vineyard irrigated with a drip system, and this with plants kept in a state of moderate water stress
  • The yields and the quality of the crops of the 2 plots are identical in spite of the 20% less water on the AQUA4D® side

Order of magnitude of possible water savings depending on the means implemented

General conclusions in the report: “Research and field analysis have already confirmed that replacing sprinkler systems with drip irrigation systems can yield savings on the order of 25%. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to monitor the situation in real time and optimize irrigation cycles based on this monitoring, with automated and remotely programmable irrigation.

With additional savings of 20-30% with AQUA4D, water savings of about 45% can be achieved, with at least the

same quantity and quality of crops. Based on their experience, the specialists at AQUA4D believe that the savings will be higher in the second year of irrigation than in the first year, as the plants adapt by developing hairy rootlets.”

For more information on the IRRISALGESCH project access the full report:

Integrated Water Management with Hi-Tech Solutions in Switzerland’s Valais