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.
  • 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.