Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Evaluating the potential of a novel dual heat-pulse sensor to measure volumetric water use in grapevines under a range of flow conditions

Kyle R. Pearsall A , Larry E. Williams A B , Sean Castorani A C , Tim M. Bleby D E and Andrew J. McElrone A C F

A Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California – Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

B Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 9240 S. Riverbend Avenue, Parlier, CA 93648, USA.

C USDA-ARS, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

D School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Australia.

E Astron Environmental Services, 129 Royal Street, East Perth, WA 6004, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: ajmcelrone@ucdavis.edu

Functional Plant Biology 41(8) 874-883 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP13156
Submitted: 23 May 2013  Accepted: 14 February 2014   Published: 22 April 2014

Abstract

The aim of this study was to validate a novel, dual sap-flow sensor that combines two heat-pulse techniques in a single set of sensor probes to measure volumetric water use over the full range of sap flows found in grapevines. The heat ratio method (HRM), which works well at measuring low and reverse flows, was combined with the compensation heat-pulse method (CHPM) that captures moderate to high flows. Sap-flow measurements were performed on Vitis vinifera L. (cvv. Thompson seedless, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon) grapevines growing in a greenhouse and in three different vineyards, one of which contained a field weighing lysimeter. The combined heat-pulse techniques closely tracked diurnal grapevine water use determined through lysimetry in two growing seasons, and this was true even at very high flow rates (>6 L vine–1 h–1 for Thompson seedless vines in the weighing lysimeter). Measurements made with the HRM technique under low flow conditions were highly correlated (R2 ~ 0.90) with those calculated using the compensated average gradient method that is used to resolve low flow with the CHPM method. Volumetric water use determined with the dual heat-pulse sensors was highly correlated with hourly lysimeter water use in both years (R2 = 0.92 and 0.94 in 2008 and 2009 respectively), but the nature of the relationship was inconsistent among replicate sensors. Similar results were obtained when comparing grapevine water use determined from sap-flow sensors to miniaturised weighing lysimetry of 2-year-old potted vines and to meteorological estimates for field-grown vines in two additional vineyards. The robust nature of all of the correlations demonstrates that the dual heat-pulse sensors can be used to effectively track relative changes in plant water use, but variability of flow around stems makes it difficult to accurately convert to sap-flow volumes.

Additional keywords: heat pulse velocity, sap flow, Vitis vinifera, weighing lysimetry.


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