There are a variety of ways that the agriculture producers in California can reduce the amount of water and energy used on their farms and ranches due to constrained water resources. A few of the key areas of opportunity identified by the Alliance in the Urban Agriculture Guidebook:
- Irrigation: The average rainfall in California is not enough to meet the needs of the crops, which means that their water needs need to be supplemented by irrigation systems. Approximately nine million acres of farmland in California are irrigated, and the water used to irrigate that farmland makes up 40% of water used in California. Drip irrigation is one of the biggest areas of opportunity to conserve water on the farm because it uses significantly less water than traditional irrigation systems, such as overhead sprinklers and flood irrigation.
- Greenhouses: Agriculture producers in California rely on greenhouses for seedlings and extending the season of common crops. Typical crops grown in greenhouses include specialty herbs, microgreens, and exotic plants. Systems that present energy saving opportunities in greenhouses include motors, horizontal airflow fans, exhaust fans, variable frequency drives, heating systems, cooling systems, and lighting.
- Refrigeration: Crops need to be stored at specific temperatures after harvest, otherwise they are susceptible to disease or other quality issues. While some crops can be stored in the open air, others require refrigerated spaces, which can be very energy intensive. There are many areas of opportunity for increasing the efficiency of refrigerated storage systems, such as increasing the efficiency of the cooling equipment, adding variable frequency drives, etc.