New irrigation book – valuable resource for wine grape growers

Lucinda Heyns - 24 Aug 2018

The book Handbook for Irrigation of Wine Grapes in South Africa, written by Dr Philip Myburgh, was launched on 15 August. Dr Philip Myburgh (Senior Researcher at ARC Nietvoorbij) has more than 40 years of experience as a researcher in irrigation of vineyards. He has published numerous scientific and popular articles and is a regular speaker at conferences, both locally and internationally. Over the years, he has been involved in various water related research projects funded by the ARC, Winetech and the Water Research Commission. 

“I have always aspired to write a book about irrigation and in this way, contribute to preserving valuable information to future generations”, said Dr Myburgh at the launch. He also reiterated that this book is a handbook, meaning that it does not only contain scientific research, but a wealth of practical tips and information that is applicable to anyone farming with wine grapes.

The project was initiated by the Institute for Grape and Wines Science’s (IGWS) Viticulture Technology Transfer Platform. One of the IGWS’ main focuses is technology transfer and to communicate existing as well as new information to industry. According to Lucinda Heyns from the IGWS, there were requests from the industry to have all available information about irrigation compiled in a user friendly format. “We couldn’t think of a better person to approach to write this book, than Dr Myburgh. He is renowned for his practical approach and his involvement in the viticulture industry as well as with the training of students. This book is testament of his dedication to the viticulture industry and to the future sustainability of the industry. It was also a privilege to have Netafim and Villa-Monash Academy involved in this project as sponsors. They immediately recognised the value of this book and didn’t hesitate to partner with us to get this book published.”  

Willem Botha of Netafim quoted Dean Kamen: “Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation. For Netafim as a company, it is vital to be involved in innovative initiatives. Irrigation is a critical component of successful wine grape farming. Philip’s book and his research over the years is world-class and with this book, it can be recognised, both locally and internationally. Our involvement in this project is a small contribution to help distinguish South Africa as a leader in irrigation.”

“As one of the key suppliers of crop protection products in South Africa, Villa Crop believes that producers can only be successful and competitive if they have access to the latest technology and knowledge. In this regard, all stakeholders in agriculture have a contribution to make. Villa Monash Academy has a strong focus on training and our involvement as co-sponsor of this book is our way of helping to better equip producers for the challenges associated with irrigation”, were the words of André Schreuder from Villa Crop.

Considering the drought that has threatened wine grape producers over the last three years, this book is released at a most opportune time. Everyone is aware that water is a valuable resource and that in future, the agriculture sector will most probably have to compete for water with other sectors. That is why the efficient use of water is of critical importance on every farm. Handbook for Irrigation of Wine Grapes in South Africa is a valuable resource for anyone who strives to manage water responsibly in their vineyards.      

Handbook for Irrigation of Wine Grapes in South Africa is in essence a summary of the wine grape irrigation research carried out in South Africa over a period of more than 50 years. The research was carried out to develop irrigation guidelines, particularly with respect to optimising wine quality and maximizing water use efficiency. Therefore, the primary focus of the book is on practical irrigation, rather than the physiology concerning grapevine water relations. In addition to irrigation strategies, and the scheduling thereof, related aspects such as climate, soil properties, water quality, irrigation systems, as well as frost protection are also addressed. It is envisaged that the book will be a useful guide for present and future generations of wine grape growers, as well as viticulture students.

Limited quantity of books printed. To get a free copy of the book, attend one of the Winetech/Vinpro regional information days. For more information, go to:

Dates for events in the Northern Cape to be confirmed.


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