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NEEA’s Field Days demonstrate irrigation technologies for Northwest growers

Energy-efficient irrigation to increase profitability, reduce operating costs by 20 percent by 2020

Portland, Ore. – Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is hosting “Field Days” on two farms in Oregon and Washington this week with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), regional electric utilities and Northwest growers. The “Field Days” gave growers and irrigators an up-close look at developing efficient irrigation technology solutions that give growers more dynamic control of watering, letting them produce crops more efficiently and more profitably.

“Field Days illustrates to the grower community what to expect with these new energy-efficient solutions,” said Nicole Berg of Paterson, Wash.-based Berg Farms.

The demonstrations are part of NEEA’s Agriculture Irrigation Energy Efficiency initiative to accelerate energy savings in the Northwest by 20 percent by 2020 through lower energy use and reduced operating costs, improving profit-per-acre for the region’s growers. 

“This initiative offers our agriculture customers tools to conserve energy and water and increase their margins,” said Tom Osborn, BPA engineer in Walla Walla, Wash.

NEEA is testing integrated solutions and methodologies that will give regional growers more control over how they operate their fields. For example, by using hand-held devices, growers can map out their fields, use collected  data to calculate how much water is needed, and tie this information back into their irrigation controls – all from the palm of their hand.

“There are lots of great tools and technologies available to growers for irrigation control, but truly integrated solutions don’t exist,” said Jeff Harris, NEEA’s director of emerging technology.  “Fully integrated solutions, available right on the growers’ hand-held devices no matter where they are, offer better tools for irrigation control which lets growers produce crops more efficiently and profitably.  Solutions like this are central to NEEA’s role in accelerating energy efficiency in the region.”

Throughout the year, NEEA collected and monitored soil moisture and weather data designed to ultimately help regional growers set schedules for irrigation and variable irrigation controls using their hand-held devices.

Regional growers at Field Days saw demonstrations by regional suppliers and manufacturers of their solutions for the market. Other Field Day participants included federal agencies such as U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and regional agricultural agencies.

"As a grower, we’re excited about the methodologies shown during the presentation and the benefits that these solutions bring us and other growers in the region,” said Berg.

NEEA plans to continue to engage with regional growers and irrigation equipment suppliers for their feedback, demonstrate the business case for the initiative, continue testing, and providing education and outreach of the initiative to the region's growers.

NEEA’s initial results and project information from the studies will be available in December 2012.


About the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to accelerate energy efficiency to meet our future energy needs. NEEA is supported by and works in collaboration with the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and more than 100 Northwest utilities on behalf of more than 12 million energy consumers. NEEA uses the market power of the region to accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners have saved enough energy to power almost 600,000 homes each year. Energy efficiency can satisfy more than half of our new demand for energy, saving money and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live.

About Bonneville Power Administration

BPA, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2012, is a nonprofit federal agency that markets renewable hydropower from federal Columbia River dams, operates three-quarters of high-voltage transmission lines in the Northwest and funds one of the largest wildlife protection and restoration programs in the world. BPA and its partners have also saved enough electricity through energy efficiency projects to power four large American cities.  BPA also works with Northwest public electric utilities to offer services and financial incentives to growers and irrigators for energy efficiency investments. For more information, contact us at 503-230-5131 or visit