"This project aims to show how to make an efficient use of water, in the sense that it can be internalised by most companies when they are using water, in this specific case for the vineyard," Rosa Amador, director-general of ADVID, told Lusa news.

The G.O.T.A. - manage, operationalise and transfer efficient use of water in the vineyard: benefiting from every drop - is a project promoted by ADVID, based in Vila Real, which has the companies Real Companhia Velha, Poças, Sogrape and Symington Family Estates as partners and is funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The project was submitted in 2021 because the issue of water and the impact that climate change may have on the Douro "are a permanent concern", but its implementation, in 2022, coincides with a year of extreme drought and intense heat.

The aim of the project is to "raise awareness among wine growers in the Demarcated Douro Region of the importance of the energy status of water in the vine and efficient irrigation management and provide them with skills to adopt good vine irrigation water management practices to their holdings".

"The main way to save water is to know what the effective need of the plant is (...), to supply water according to the so-called 'water stress' of the vine," said Rosa Amador, explaining that a regular measurement is made of the water potential of the vine which points to the amount of water that should be supplied.

She then added that in the vineyard, "only drip irrigation is used" and that "it's necessary to manage very efficiently, in the sense of seeing all the losses that may exist along the irrigation system including the piping".

"Another very important point is the complementarity with other tools, such as the application of kaolin (solar protector for the vine), which means that the vine has less evapotranspiration and therefore needs less water. The trellis on the ground will also make it so that there is greater water retention in the soil," she exemplified.

Since 2002, ADVID has developed studies and activities on these issues, collecting data and transferring knowledge to the entire sector, with the involvement of member companies.

Now, based on the work developed and with the G.O.T.A. project, the aim is to raise awareness among wine growers of the need for efficient management of irrigation water in the vineyard, through internalisation of knowledge, either in irrigation systems already installed or to be installed, or through the adoption of measures enabling a reduction in the volume of water to be applied, promoting more efficient management of this resource in vine growing.

Dissemination events and open days have already been held at the partner farms, during which concrete examples were shown of how companies are working with water and implementing best practices, the efficient use of water and reducing water losses as well.

As part of the project, on 14 October, at the Douro Museum, Peso da Régua, a seminar entitled "Water Management in Viticulture: Challenges and Opportunities" will be held to bring together wine growers, technicians, researchers and official entities with responsibilities in water-related policies and discuss the main challenges and opportunities in the sustainable use of this resource in a context of climate change.

Some of the topics under discussion are the impact of climate change, new perspectives for an efficient water management, the sustainable use of water and water availability in a context of climate change.