Category: California Drought

California Farmer Seeks Greater Efficiency with Drip Irrigation

According to second generation farmer, Pete Aiello, “there has been a lot of finger pointing as California endures a drought, and most of it seems to be directed toward agriculture.”

“California farmers do their best to make every drop of water count,” Pete says. “My family’s farm started installing drip irrigation systems in 1985. Local experts estimate that 80 percent of Santa Clara County’s irrigation is done through low-volume irrigation such as drip tape and micro sprinklers.”

Learn more about Pete Aiello’s take on agriculture, the California drought, and drip irrigation by clicking the title or the following link:

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Farmers Looking to Use Surface Drip Irrigation Amid California Drought

Although underground irrigation is still a common way to water crops and fields, some farmers and landowners are moving to use surface irrigation amid one of the worst droughts in state history.

Underground irrigation delivers water through buried tubing or pipes while surface drip irrigation is positioned above the ground and is not permanent.

Aric Barcellos, with A-Bar Ag Enterprises, whose family business owns 8,000 acres along the West Side of Merced County, is one of many farmers who are becoming more serious about using surface drip systems to irrigate.

A-Bar Ag Enterprises farms cotton, tomatoes, asparagus, pomegranates, wheat, melons, onions and pistachios, and receives water from several water districts

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California Drought Financial Assistance Program – Application Deadline March 3, 2014

Drought_CropThe 2014 California Drought is creating especially dire conditions for the State’s farmers and ranchers. Though we can’t change the weather, we can prepare and convert to irrigation efficient technologies, such as drip irrigation, to reduce the effects of this and future droughts.

To help farmers and ranchers implement conservation and irrigation efficient practices, NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) is offering technical help and financial assistance through EQIP (The Environmental Quality Incentives Program), a voluntary cost share program.

The NRCS has committed a $25 million fund pool specifically for Drought Assistance through EQIP, and will work closely with producers to ensure successful implementation.

But don’t wait to take advantage of this great opportunity to finance and implement conservation or irrigation efficient technologies because the deadline for Drought Assistance EQIP is right around the corner — all applications must be received by March 3, 2014!

To apply, visit your local USDA service center.

Click here to find your local USDA service center, or visit for more information.

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California Drought Reveals the Need to Switch to Drip Irrigation

With no end in sight to California’s record drought, state leaders are right to focus most of the $687 million relief package they announced Wednesday on longer-term efforts to conserve and recycle water.

But if we’re really all in this together, leaders must pay far more attention to the biggest user — agriculture, which takes anywhere from 62% to 75% of available water in a given year, depending on how that consumption is measured.

As The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Weiser reported on Sunday, while more farmers are using drip irrigation, which is far more efficient than flooding fields, many are stuck in the old ways. And while urban water systems must reduce per capita water use 20% by 2020 or risk losing state money, state law does not put the agricultural sector under similar conservation requirements.

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Irrigation Efficiency Rebate Program

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Staples Energy have collaborated to offer growers the “Low-Pressure Irrigation Efficiency Program” — a great opportunity for growers to save energy and water. People who participate will also get a free energy assessment of their current irrigation system and learn about other PG&E programs available.

Efficiency Made Affordable: Qualifying projects receive $5.00 per low-pressure sprinkler replaced or $144 per acre for sprinkler to drip conversions.

Staples Energy is working with a trusted network of irrigation manufacturers and local dealers to assess systems for savings opportunities, as well as provide growers with recommendations on low-pressure sprinklers or drip irrigation conversion options.

Plus, the process is easy, hassle-free, and growers can work with trusted, participating local irrigation suppliers to install the products they choose. The customer product incentives – $5.00 for each sprinkler or $144 per acre for sprinkler to drip conversions – are paid up front, directly to the dealer. That means growers see the incentives come right off the bottom-line price of their installation costs.

Click here to download the Low-Pressure Irrigation Efficiency Program brochure.

Click here for a current list of participating irrigation suppliers and dealers.

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Amid Drought, California Farmers Rely on Water Equipment Companies

California’s drought could prove devastating to the state’s farmers and ranchers. But the dry spell has brought a gusher of new business to companies that provide them with water.

That much was clear at this year’s World Ag Expo, which kicked off Tuesday in Tulare, a town of 60,000 about 45 miles south of Fresno. At one booth was a well repair company that had to add extra shifts to meet all the agricultural demand for groundwater. Nearby, a firm that provides turbine pumps for wells said orders were coming in so furiously it was running out of parts. And several feet away, a drip irrigation maker said it was taking orders from farmers months ahead of schedule as the prospect of enough rain over the winter appeared remote.

The World Ag Expo is the largest farm equipment show in the world — a three-day extravaganza of high-tech tractors, automated dairy milkers and mechanized tree harvesters on 2.6 million square feet of fertile Central California soil.

But this year, the annual event is also a window into the frantic struggle taking place to keep the world supplied with fruit, nuts and vegetables from the Golden State. Amid what could be one of the worst droughts in California’s recorded history, growers are relying on a host of companies to help them deliver what water remains to their fields.

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California Drought has Farmers Facing Unemployment

Amid California’s driest year on record, the nation’s leading agricultural region is locked in drought and bracing for unemployment to soar, sending farm workers to food lines in a place famous for its abundance.

One-third of the Central Valley’s jobs are related to farming. Strains on water supplies are expected to force farmers to leave fields unplanted, creating a ripple effect on food processing plant workers, truck drivers and those who sell fertilizer, irrigation equipment and tractors.

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California Cancels Water Deliveries Due to Drought

California water officials turned off the tap Friday, saying the winter drought forced them to cancel water deliveries to the entire state.

The Department of Water Resources said in Sacramento none of the water from the State Water Project earmarked for individual water agencies would be delivered as previously agreed to.

“The harsh weather leaves us little choice,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said. “If we are to have any hope of coping with continued dry weather and balancing multiple needs, we must act now to preserve what water remains in our reservoirs.”

The State Water Project is the infrastructure agency that parcels out the water that comes mainly from winter rains and snowfall to water agencies serving cities and agricultural areas. Because precipitation has been rare this winter, there is virtually no hope supplies for the dry summer will be adequate.

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California Governor Declares Drought State of Emergency

With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Governor Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”

In the State of Emergency declaration, Governor Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The governor also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign.

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Water Professionals Gather to Discuss California Drought, Water & Energy Efficiency

Water professionals from around the state are preparing to meet in Sacramento to discuss the future of efficient water and energy use in California, but many are now focusing on an immediate future threatened by drought.

Click here for a graphic and additional information concerning California’s current drought situation.

As a result, California Irrigation Institute conference organizers have secured recently appointed Deputy Drought Manager Jeanine Jones to provide an update during Friday’s luncheon regarding what the state of California intends to do. This bonus presentation has become a draw for many registering attendees at the 52nd annual conference of agricultural, urban and environmental water experts.

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