Published in 20th Annual Irrigation Show Technical Proceedings, Orlando, Florida, January 1, 1999, pages 9-16. Copyright © 1999 Irrigation Association.
This paper is a summary of two farms that utilized the California Energy Commission's low-interest loan program to facilitate their entry into drip irrigation. One farm is located near Oxnard, California, USA and the other is located near Gilroy, California, USA. Both of these growers farm about 162 hectares (400 acres) in their overall operations and used the loans to purchase subsurface drip irrigation systems for Peppers. Over $4 million in low-interest loans have been made available to California growers from the California Energy Commission (CEC) since 1986. The CEC initiated the loan program for growers to help implement energy conservation practices.
The primary findings ofthis paper include: I) The growers needed a two to three year learning curve to solve basic problems. They continually adapt to new challenges by trying different approaches to management and hardware. 2) The nature of problems will change from year to year. 3) Peppers have an excellent yield response to drip irrigation. The energy used (per unit yield) decreased and the volume of water required (per unit yield) decreased. Fertilizer application accounts for a significant amount of the total input energy for peppers (over 30%) due to the energy required to manufacture N-based fertilizers. Fertilizer application rates remained relatively constant. This is the area for greatest future reduction in energy use, by gradually using less fertilizers. 4) Both growers are expanding the amount of drip irrigation systems on their farms.
Agricultural and Resource Economics | Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering