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Orchard Irrigation

A micro-irrigation system at work in an orchard on Seventh Avenue outside Hanford. 

Some Kings County growers are taking advantage of a state water efficiency program to improve their operations.

Seventeen grants to local growers totaling $1.34 million were handed out to local farmers in 2014 and 2015 to make a variety of water efficiency improvements, according to a press release.

Kern County growers received 11 grants, Tulare County growers received 22 grants and Fresno County growers received 31 grants.

No dollar amounts were immediately available for those counties.

The most common project was to install soil moisture sensors and other irrigation monitoring equipment that measures exactly how much water crops are receiving. That, combined with measurements of the plants evapo-transpiration rates, allows farmers to precisely calibrate the amount of water they're adding to their fields.

Such improvements have taken on added significance as many parts of California are into the fifth year of a drought that began in late 2012.

The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which provided the funding through cap-and-trade revenues, was launched in 2014 in response to drought.

Other projects that received funding include pump improvements and conversion to precision irrigation systems such as micro-sprinklers and drip lines.

In addition to achieving water savings, the program is also designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this month, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced $50,000 in grants to fund one-time support for hands-on technical assistance from grant recipients.

For more information about the program, contact Adam Kotkin, associate policy director at the California Climate and Agriculture Network, at 916-441-4042 or adam@calclimate.org.

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The reporter can be reached at snidever@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2432. Follow him on Twitter @snidever.

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