Facilitating On-farm Participation in Energy Demand Management Programs

Optimizing Irrigation management allows growers to participate in utility demand response and time of use programs while providing flexibility to the grid

Irrigation for the Future, Inc.


Chico, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

The project is complete and the research team collected in-season measurement and observations at the cooperating farms using the automated irrigation management system, Irrigation Management Online (IMO). This system employs automated data integration that can generate updated irrigation schedules which is sent to the grower on-demand via the updated IMO interface. The IMO system informs the growers of the water use and yield reduction consequences of participating in any demand response (DR) or Auto DR event.

The Issue

Irrigated agriculture represents a significant source of energy-use and peak demand in California. California's level of irrigation management is advanced relative to the rest of the country, with 40% of irrigators using some form of scientific irrigation management when deciding when to irrigate. To reduce energy and water use further, partial irrigation timing strategies, such as deficit irrigation, are needed. Partial irrigation strategies can reduce energy use or shift demand times while maintaining or increasing farm profits, but these benefits are not well documented.

Project Innovation

This project is developing a management tool for optimizing irrigation at ten farms in California. The sites have varied water requirements, growing a mix of almonds and alfalfa. The project is validating a pre-commercial water management system that allows irrigators to have more flexibility over when they irrigate and use energy. Instead of adding water whenever the soil is dry, this system will manage plant stress so that water can be delivered when needed by the plant and when electricity costs are low. The irrigation management technology enables irrigators to participate in utility demand response, time-of-use, and automated demand response incentive programs offering cost savings benefits to customers who can shift their energy demand.

Project Benefits

The project results in testing an irrigation management system to facilitate use of partial irrigation strategies, enabling flexible energy load control. This will allow irrigators to participate in utility demand response and time of use programs, providing grid flexibility.

Lower Costs


This project could lower energy costs and demand through participation in utility incentive programs for time-of-use, demand response, and automated demand response. It could also reduce water use and cost by 15% per farm.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Marshall English

President & CEO



Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


David Doll


Oregon State University, Dept of Biological and Ecological Engineering


Thomas Trout




Dellavalle Labratory, Inc.


Pacific Agronomics, Inc.


Match Partners


Irrigation for the Future, Inc.


Contact the Team