Challenges

There are many barriers that agriculture producers face when considering efficiency improvements on farms and ranches, but the three primary barriers are financing, education, and time.

The agriculture industry is highly competitive, which results in increasingly tight profit margins. It is difficult for agriculture producers to justify efficiency improvements when they don’t see a return on their investment immediately. Financial incentives from utilities for installing energy and water efficiency measures help, but sometimes they are not enough to justify the capital investment.

The second barrier to energy and water efficiency is education. The Alliance interviewed growers as part of the urban agriculture study in 2016 and found that there is often a lack of knowledge in the various energy and water efficiency options available. Growers expressed an interest in having a better relationship with their utilities so they could know what type of incentive opportunities are available. Another issue is the limited sharing of knowledge and best practices among growers. Growers expressed interest in a more central database of resources so they could stay on top of best practices and technology advancements.

Finally, the third challenge that agriculture producers face when considering energy and water efficiency opportunities is time. While many agriculture producers are interested in improving the efficiency of the establishments, many cite that they don’t have the time and resources required to research various options.

  • Greenhouse Growers Sustainability Forum

  • Greenhouse Growers Sustainability Forum

    On November 6, 2013 the California Sustainability Alliance held a forum for the Southern California Gas Company’s (SCG) greenhouse, floriculture and horticulture customers in Santa Barbara, CA. Fourteen participants from twelve growing operations participated at the forum. The half-day forum included a presentation on the science of sustainable soil, three best practices presentations by growers, and break-out discussion sessions.

    The primary goal of the forum was to “listen” to the growers to A) determine what is their current level of use and acceptance of energy efficient practices, and B) assess which of their needs are opportunities that SCG could address.

    The Alliance report entitled Sustainability Forum for Greenhouse, Floriculture and Horticulture Customers documents the presentations, discussion and general conclusions of the forum. 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 recommendations and additional details.