Aims: The study aims at applying to a perennial crop the concept of workable days developed for annual crops by G. Kreher in 1955. A workable day is a day that provides conditions agronomically correct for work. Methods and results: A survey among grapevine growers was carried out to collect their perception of practice sensitivity to weather variability. The study provided information on working periods, techniques and machinery involved, weather constraints and thresholds generally used by the vine growers, for 21 annual cropping practices. Pesticide spraying against powdery and downy mildew appeared to be the most sensitive to weather parameters. Therefore, this practice was selected for the purpose of modelling workable days, according to decision rules based on the postulate that all weather parameters should be within the acceptable ranges. The model was run over a period of 13 years (1998-2010). Analyses of the outputs pointed out a great variability in the number of workable days from one year to another as well as in the respective proportion of unfavourable weather factors involved in the reduction of workable days. A validation based on the analysis of the actual spraying practices realized over a period of 12 years (1999-2010) showed that 32 % of the treatments were done on a day characterized as not workable by the model. The errors could be attributed to periods of holidays and risky sanitary situations when decision rules had to be bypassed. Conclusion: The model proved to represent rather well the decision rules use by vine growers to carry out their annual cropping practices in relation with the weather variability, within the area of study. The controversial role of the 'leaf wetness duration' weather parameter needs to be clarified; it may help to better parametrize the model. In order to improve its performance, the model should be coupled to a disease propagation model. Significance and impact of the study: In a climate change perspective, modelling of workable days can be run with simulated climatic data. It may prove to be useful to adapt vineyard management strategies in terms of innovative cropping practices and equipment.
[Barbeau, Christine; Barbeaul, Gerard] UMT VINITERA, INRA UE1117, F-49071 Beaucouze, France; [Joannon, Alexandre] INRA SADPAYSAGE, F-35042 Rennes, France
Barbeaul, G (reprint author), UMT VINITERA, INRA UE1117, 42 rue Georges Morel, BP 60057, F-49071 Beaucouze, France.