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April 2, 2015
Agriculture - agriculture, food processing, irrigation, water

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.