Greenhouse and Sustainability in California Greenhouses and Nurseries

California growers and post-harvest processors are among the most progressive agriculturalists in the state. At a recent forum in Tulare, agriculturalists offered input regarding their efforts to reduce inputs and described the assistance that would enhance their current sustainability efforts.

While long-term, successful farming is, at its core, “sustainable,” short-term demands of planting and harvesting make it difficult to focus on the future. The current crop’s immediate need for water may trump the future benefit of conservation. However, some growers have perfected practices that reduce both energy and water use.

Growers and processors are eager to learn about these best practices, such as integration of renewable energy and deployment of energy management systems – but opportunities for this type of education are limited.

The following recommendations include those most frequently cited by forum participants where SCG could add value to sustainability efforts in grower operations:

  1. Collaborate with growers and processors to evaluate and maximize well “life” in order to maintain or improve energy and water efficiency.
  2. Support natural gas-fueled pump deployment and retirement of diesel-fueled irrigation,
  3. Provide grants and incentives that meet the needs of smaller “family farms.”

To provide a full description of this event, the Alliance has released a new report entitled Sustainability Forum for Southern Central Valley Agricultural Growers and Post-Harvest Processors. The report documents the participants’ perspectives and conclusions, including:

  • Wanting more programs for converting water pumps and diesel powered wind machines to natural gas,
  • Opportunities to develop SCG supported programs to evaluate well efficiency and “life” potential,
  • Support for natural gas powered generators for cold storage at packing houses,
  • Providing easy to download grid maps showing natural gas distribution lines,
  • Wanting grants and rebates specifically focused on small family farmers as perception is that large firms dominate the programs, including offering a “call-in” number for smaller growers to contact SCG for information on programs and incentives,
  • Increase the number, distribution and teaming-up of water pump testers and irrigation specialists to conduct more audits and field operation reviews, and
  • Providing incentive programs to support larger water lines for drip systems.

Download the full report for more details.

Greenhouse and Sustainability in California Greenhouses and Nurseries

The California Statewide Agriculture Market Characterization Study completed in 2013 examined the opportunities for energy efficiency across all agriculture sub-segments. The study identified the Greenhouses and Nurseries segments as a good candidate for improved energy savings. The study found that:

  • Relative to other segments, greenhouses and nurseries did not prioritize energy metrics or monitoring, presenting opportunities for increased deployment of energy management systems and greater uptake of related utility incentives;
  • Growers within the segment communicate most frequently through grassroots networks that often share information about new technologies;
  • While a few leaders within the greenhouse community have educated themselves and taken up a host of basic to advanced energy measures, there is a need for more technology demonstrations and other collaborative programs that could help the rest of the industry move forward.

To better serve and understand this market the California Sustainability Alliance held a forum for the greenhouse, floriculture and horticulture customers in Santa Barbara, CA. Growers offered input regarding both their efforts to reduce energy and water use and describe the assistance that would enhance their current sustainability efforts. The Alliance recently released a summary the forum in a new report entitled Sustainability Forum for Greenhouse, Floriculture and Horticulture Customers.

The report documents key recommendations from participants regarding potential improvements to utility programs. These recommendations include:

  • Streamline the paper work and reduce the processing time needed to qualify for and receive utility rebates and incentives
  • Provide more technical and design information, including pre-engineering support, and increase financial support for advanced energy and water efficiency technologies
  • Provide more support to qualify cogeneration and alternative energy projects
  • Increase utility support of agriculture customers by increasing account executive support and offering regular grower forums
  • Team up pump and irrigation specialists with utility account executives to conduct more audits and field operation reviews
  • Provide help to perform financial analysis for energy efficiency projects

Download the full report for more details.