How do spatial scale and seasonal factors affect thermal-based water status estimation and precision irrigation decisions in vineyards?

Idan Bahat, Yishai Netzer, José M. Grünzweig, Amos Naor, Victor Alchanatis, Alon Ben-Gal, Ohali’av Keisar, Guy Lidor, Yafit Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The crop water stress index (CWSI) is widely used for assessing water status in vineyards, but its accuracy can be compromised by various factors. Despite its known limitations, the question remains whether it is inferior to the current practice of direct measurements of Ψstem of a few representative vines. This study aimed to address three key knowledge gaps: (1) determining whether Ψstem (measured in few vines) or CWSI (providing greater spatial representation) better represents vineyard water status; (2) identifying the optimal scale for using CWSI for precision irrigation; and (3) understanding the seasonal impact on the CWSI-Ψstem relationship and establishing a reliable Ψstem prediction model based on CWSI and meteorological parameters. The analysis, conducted at five spatial scales in a single vineyard from 2017 to 2020, demonstrated that the performance of the CWSI- Ψstem model improved with increasing scale and when meteorological variables were integrated. This integration helped mitigate apparent seasonal effects on the CWSI-Ψstem relationship. R2 were 0.36 and 0.57 at the vine and the vineyard scales, respectively. These values rose to 0.51 and 0.85, respectively, with the incorporation of meteorological variables. Additionally, a CWSI-based model, enhanced by meteorological variables, outperformed current water status monitoring at both vineyard (2.5 ha) and management cell (MC) scales (0.09 ha). Despite reduced accuracy at smaller scales, water status evaluation at the management cell scale produced significantly lower Ψstem errors compared to whole vineyard evaluation. This is anticipated to enable more effective irrigation decision-making for small-scale management zones in vineyards implementing precision irrigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1501
Number of pages25
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Crop water stress index (CWSI)
  • Modeling
  • Precision viticulture
  • Stem water potential
  • Thermal imagery


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