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Grants to California Farmers and Tribes to Implement Environmentally Friendly Irrigation Systems


Geographic Focus

USA: California

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State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Pilot Program

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)

Agency: State

GrantWatch ID #148507

Grant Description

Grants to California farmers, ranchers, and recognized tribes for the implementation of agricultural irrigation systems that save water and reduce greenhouse gases. Eligible projects include drip systems, soil moisture monitoring, pump retrofits, variable frequency drives, switching to low-pressure irrigation systems, and the installation of renewable energy to reduce on-farm water use and energy.

CDFA has identified the following strategies that address water conservation without increasing GHG production. Applicants should consider incorporating several strategies listed below to achieve water conservation. Applicants are not required to implement any of these strategies, but these options are provided as examples of strategies that may result in fundable, eligible projects.

Water Savings

1. Irrigation Scheduling Sensors

  • Examples include the use of soil moisture or plant sensors, the use of electronic data output and telemetry, and the use of weather station(s), the use of evapotranspiration (ET) based irrigation scheduling, or the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) to optimize water use efficiency for crops. Additionally, the use of an on-farm irrigation automation system for scheduling is allowable.
  • For use of ET based irrigation scheduling, provide sufficient documentation to show that water deliveries can be made on a consistent basis to accommodate that scheduling.
  • Project designs should follow NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) 449 Irrigation Water Management specifications. 

2. Irrigation Method

  • Examples include the conversion to a more water efficient irrigation method or improvement of existing method to conserve water. Onfarm practices such as adding/repairing a pipeline, lining water ways or outlets, and installing drip line or other forms of irrigation line are allowable.
  • Project designs should follow NRCS CPS 441 Micro Irrigation, 442 Sprinkler System, 443 Irrigation System – Surface and Subsurface, 430 Irrigation Pipeline, 468 Lined Waterway or Outlet specifications.

3. Irrigation Infrastructure

  • Examples included land leveling, increasing flow rates, replacing on farm water delivery gates and installing a tail water recovery system.
  • Project designs should follow NRCS CPS 464 Irrigation Land Leveling and 427 Irrigation Drainage and Tailwater Recovery specifications.

Energy Use Reductions or Greenhouse Gas Emission Offsets

1. Fuel Conversion and/or Renewable Energy

  • Examples include pump fuel conversion resulting in reduction of GHG emissions such as replacing a diesel pump with an electric pump and/or the installation of renewable energy.
  • Renewable energy that is used to power irrigation systems are eligible for SWEEP funding and can further reduce GHG emissions.
  • Interconnection to the electricity grid is eligible for SWEEP funding.

2. The Commitment to Use Utility-provided Renewable Energy to Offset an Increase in Pumping Energy Use. 

3. Improved Energy Efficiency of Pumps and the Addition of Variable Frequency Drives

  • Examples include retrofitting or replacing pumps or the addition of variable frequency drives to reduce energy use and match pump flow to load requirements.
  • Mobile diesel pumps are eligible for retrofit or replacement to reduce emissions and improve efficiency.
  • NRCS CPS 372 Combustion System Improvement or 533 Pumping Plant may apply. 

4. Low Pressure Systems

  • For example, the conversion of a high-pressure sprinkler system to a low-pressure micro-irrigation system or lower pressure sprinkler system to reduce pumping and energy use.
  • Project designs should follow NRCS CPS 441 Micro Irrigation or 442 Sprinkler System specifications.

5. Reduced Pumping through Water Savings Strategies

  • For example, improved irrigation scheduling may lead to reduced pump operation times. 

For information on other management practices, see the following link:

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  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility and Exclusions:
- California farmers, ranchers and Federal and California Recognized Native American Indian Tribes are eligible to apply. The farm location and the business mailing address must be in California.
-The irrigation project must be on a California agricultural operation. For the purposes of this program, an agricultural operation is defined as row, vineyard, field and tree crops, commercial nurseries, nursery stock production, and greenhouse operations producing food crops or flowers as defined in Food and Agricultural Code section 77911.
- Academic university research institutions and state governmental organizations are not eligible for funding.
- An agricultural operation cannot submit more than one application per unique tax identification number.
- An agricultural operation cannot receive a total cumulative SWEEP award amount of more than $600,000.
- Applications cannot build upon any previously funded SWEEP projects directly affecting the same Assessor’s Parcel Numbers (APNs). However, applicants are encouraged to apply for a new project with different APNs.
- An applicant must be at least 18 years old and associated with the project.
-Projects must reduce on-farm irrigation water use and reduce GHG emissions.
- SWEEP funds may be combined with other funds as match for the same project, such as funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). However, SWEEP funds cannot cover activities or costs funded by other federal or state grant programs.

SWEEP grant funds cannot be used to:
• Expand existing agricultural operations (i.e., additional new acreage cannot be converted to farmland)
• Install new groundwater wells or increase well depth
• Test new technology or perform research

Pre-proposal Conference:

CDFA Informational Webinar:

Register for the SWEEP Pilot Informational Webinar (September 19th at 3pm-4:30pm):

Pre-Application Information:

- Release Request for Grant Applications (RGA): September 13, 2022
- Grant applications due: November 8, 2022
- Administrative and technical review: November – December 2022
- Announce and award funding: January 2023

Based upon questions received, CDFA will prepare Questions and Answers (Q&A) documents to address general questions about the application submission process and program requirements.

Questions Received by: October 10, 2022
Responses Posted by: October 17, 2022

Additional Funding Information:

Estimated Size of Grant:

The maximum grant award is $200,000.

Term of Contract:

Awarded project must be complete and operational no later than 18 months after the start of the grant agreement. The anticipated start date is May 1, 2023.

Contact Information:

Apply online:

Direct questions to

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation
1220 N St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

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