The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $3.6 million for 93 different projects to implement on-farm water irrigation systems that reduce water and energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is part of emergency drought Legislation (SB 103) signed earlier this year by Governor Brown – authorizing CDFA to distribute as much as $10 million for eligible projects. The money comes from the state’s portion of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. The proceeds are deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and appropriated to state agencies.

The first round of funding will be for projects that include water-efficiency modifications like drip and microsprinkler systems; energy-efficient water pumps that reduce GHG emissions; soil moisture sensors; and irrigation scheduling programs that apply water based on crop needs.

“These projects are critical because they allow farmers to continue production while reducing the amount of water and energy used,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The result is a more efficient farming operation with multiple benefits including water conservation and reduced GHG emissions.”

This program is the first of its kind at CDFA and applies to its authority under the Environmental Farming Act, which states that the department should establish and oversee an environmental farming program to provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystem and air quality.

A second solicitation of SWEEP proposals is already underway, with grant awards up to $150,000 per project. More information on the next round, including information on how to complete an application, can be found by visiting the program webpage; www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/sweep