A research project looking into the energy costs associated with groundwater pumping is seeking participation from growers via an online survey of farms and ranches. Producers are being encouraged to share their experiences with the energy required to pump groundwater. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) was awarded funding for the project through the California Energy Commission Electric Program Investment Charge.
“We understand that growers are busy running their farms or ranches and they are constantly invited to respond to surveys,” said LBNL Energy and Environmental Policy Research Scientist Helcio Blum. “I see this survey as an opportunity [for farmers] to share their perspective on what kind of support they need and are willing to take when it comes to reducing their energy cost.”
The information from the survey will be aggregated, with results used as a means of understanding current conditions of energy use and costs of groundwater pumping in agriculture. “It is a completely anonymous survey, we don’t ask for names, we don’t track IP addresses,” said Heidi Fuchs, LBNL Scientific Engineering Associate. “We’re hoping with the report to maybe inform any future efforts to reduce energy costs on farms.”
Groundwater has been a significant topic of discussion due to the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, as well as a prolonged drought a few years ago creating an even greater reliance on groundwater in agriculture. “This has a double effect on the energy consumption on the farm. First, because they are pumping more, second because they’re pumping water from even deeper levels,” said Blum, who also noted the survey is strictly asking for information on energy expenditures related to pumping. “We don’t care about how much they pump, but how much energy they spend to pump it.”
The survey will be closing soon, so those interested in taking the Groundwater Pumping Energy Use in CA survey will need to do so in a timely manner.