Project Info

Project Title 
1999 & 2000 AGRICULTURE
Project Number 
Commercial, Agricultural
Project Year(s) 
2003 - N/A

The purpose of this project is to offer a complete package of advanced energy solutions and technical support to increase farm production and reduce costs. U.S. farms spend about $12 billion each year for energy. Approximately $3.8 billion of that goes toward electricity purchases. Efficient use of electricity has a critical impact on profitability. Today's farmers and agribusinesses rely heavily on advanced technologies and science to turn a profit. Where once farmers turned a watchful eye to the sky for signs of rain, satellites now give them detailed snapshots of weather conditions around the country. Farmhands have been replaced by energy-efficient motors and other electrotechnologies to the tune of 44 billion kWh of electricity consumption annually. This EPRI target also provides marketing communications tools to provide access to these energy solutions to agribusinesses.

This project supports the PIER Program objectives of:
• Improving the energy cost/value of California's electricity by providing energy solutions for agribusinesses to increase farm production and reduce costs; and
• Improving the environmental and public health costs/risks of California's electricity by demonstrating the use of ozone as a replacement for chemicals such as methyl bromide for purification, fumigation, and disinfection.

Proposed Outcomes:
1. Support the potential for use of ozone in place of chemicals or other methods in agriculture.
2. Provide experience and knowledge on innovative technologies and practices to increase production and reduce costs in agribusiness.
3. Support the use of energy-efficient technologies and practices in agriculture.
4. Conduct a Tailored Collaboration entitled "Predicting Agricultural Growth After Ozone Treatment" to test the technical efficacy of treating agricultural soils with on-site generated ozone gas to reduce pest pressures on plant growth.

Actual Outcomes:
1. Use of ozone.
• A report was published entitled Ozone in the Food and Agriculture Industries.
• A petition was made to the Federal Drug Administration to gain regulatory acceptance of ozone treatment of food products in agriculture and food processing. The petition is under review by the FDA and a ruling is expected in 2001.
• An ozone conference was held in September 1999 in Tulare, and abstracts were published.
2. Technologies and practices to increase production and reduce cost.
• A report was published on freshwater recirculation aquaculture systems that hold the potential to make fishfarming more profitable.
• A report was published on a North Carolina demonstration of an aquaculture facility utilizing water re-use technology.
• Results of a study were published on poultry spiking mortality, highlighting the importance of purified drinking water in poultry production.
• Results of study were published on stray voltage and animal sensitivity levels.
• A report was published on the potential for drip irrigation of technical row crops.
• Information was published on a greenhouse study of very intense lettuce production.
• A report was published on closed-cycle shrimp farming.
3. Energy efficient technologies and practices.
• A report was published on the McLeod harvest method, an innovative grain harvesting technology that offers a promising alternative to combine harvesting, especially for small farms.
• Technical and energy consumption information were published on the application of variable-speed drives to increase the energy efficiency and controllability of agricultural fans.
• Findings were published on the use of static phase adaptors to utilize 110-volt current on large three-phase irrigation motors.
4. Field trials were conducted for several crops, including carrots and tomatoes, and initial success was reported. Results were summarized in a report entitled Ozone Gas as a Soil Fumigant.

Project Status: The Commission's participation in this target ended as of December 31, 2000.