Using SWEEP funding to finance your irrigation system
Recently Fruition Sciences has received questions from prospective customers on using funding from the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) to finance their irrigation system upgrades, including the purchase of Sap Flow sensors. We understand that using plant-based sensors as irrigation trigger can be a major investment for many vineyards and also a shift in practices. The assistance provided by the SWEEP could therefore significantly lower the access barriers to latest precision irrigation technologies.
What is SWEEP? The program was started by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in 2014. SWEEP provides financing to agricultural operations to implement irrigation systems with two main goals: lower greenhouse gas emissions and save water. During its first year of operations, SWEEP funded 129 projects with a total investment of nearly $9 million. In 2017, the program is expected to invest up to $4.5 million in total. The maximum grant award is $100,000 per agricultural operation.
It is important to note that the role of SWEEP will most likely be a co-financing partner for your irrigation system investment. The application guidelines recommend using 50 percent SWEEP contribution to the total project cost.
To qualify for SWEEP funding, applications have to demonstrate evidence of meeting both goals of the program in terms of greenhouse gas reduction and water savings. According to the program guidelines, key factors to determine scores of an application include greenhouse gas reductions per acre, water savings per acre and location relative to disadvantaged communities.
Applications that demonstrate reduced groundwater pumping from critically-overdrafted basins (in purple) will receive extra consideration (Source: California DWR)
Which project types might be eligible for SWEEP funding? Eligible project types include weather, soil, or plant-based sensors for irrigation scheduling (e.g. Sap Flow), micro irrigation or drip systems, fuel conversion, improved energy efficiency of pumps, low pressure systems, variable frequency drives, and reduced pumping. Applications can also combine several project types to address both goals of the program. The maximum grant duration is 12 months starting June 1, 2017.
Applications for 2017 SWEEP funding are due by March 14, 2017. More information on the program, including technical assistance workshops, can be found on the official website at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep/.
Fruition Sciences offers a full suite of products addressing a variety of vine health monitoring needs. Our product Sap Flow helps winemakers enhance fruit and wine quality while saving significant amounts of water.
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Elise is a member of the Fruition Sciences marketing team. She holds a BA in economics and statistics from Mount Holyoke College and is pursuing her MBA at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Prior to her MBA, Elise worked as a consultant for ICF International, a leading energy and environment consulting firm.
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