Fresno Hosts Water and Energy Conservation Seminar

September 15, 2009 11:49:00 PM PDT
A third year of drought has Valley farmers looking at ways to become more efficient. The water issue has many businesses revising their strategy for economic growth.The challenge for Valley farmers is to produce more crop per drop of water. Traditional flood irrigation is slowly being phased out and replaced by drip irrigation. Madera grape grower Matt Angell observed, "I think there's a lot of ground that can be transformed into drip but then the thing you don't want to do is run a drip system like a flood system. We call that micro-drip flooding."

Raisins are back baking in the sun after a brief sprinkle. Farmers are always at the mercy of the elements. Angell said, "I think people kind of laugh a little about global warming. I'm a measurement guy. I believe in facts and hard-core stats."

Farmers, local leaders and business owners gathered at the Holiday Inn in downtown Fresno to talk about how climate change could impact business. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said, "It's important for our agricultural base but the companies that make the things that allow us to conserve water and energy is a tremendous market for all of you."

Climatologists were among those who spoke at the session, sponsored by the International Center for Water Technology at Fresno State. Center Director David Zoldoske said, "We're trying to look at it more in a scientific venue - what are the models telling us. For instance, it looks like the average temperature in the Valley is going up during the summer, not so much the daytime temperature but the night-time temperature."

Matt Angell, the grape grower, has turned his passion to conserve water into a business called "Pure Sense." It uses soil sensors to determine if crops need water. Farmers can check their field conditions on the internet.

Another way businesses can reduce energy costs - conduct an audit for energy use. The service is available through the US Department of Commerce.

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