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Water-Use Efficiency in Agriculture


AgricultureIn Santa Clara County, as in the rest of California, water availability and pumping costs are important considerations for the agricultural industry. Efficient irrigation methods and scheduling are the key to maximizing water and fertilizer use efficiency.

Estimating crop water requirements
The graphs obtainable by clicking on the [PDF] links below show the estimated cumulative irrigation requirements for several crops of importance in the Llagas Valley. Crop specific details are included below each graph.

Alfalfa Cherries Stone fruit Peppers Corn Wine grapes Walnuts Dry beans Celery Tomatoes

Agricultural customers can increase water-use efficiency with the following resources:

On-line Irrigation Scheduling Calculators
One of these calculators is for fields, vineyards and orchards that are drip irrigated. The other is for sprinkler irrigated fields and orchards. Each of them makes it easy to calculate your crop's irrigation requirements based on your local CIMIS weather station data and the percentage of your field that is shaded by the crop around high noon.

You can use these calculators to estimate the irrigation water used by your crop the last few days ("in arrears"), or to forecast your crop's water use in the coming few days ("in advance").

Of course, it's essential to check your soil moisture to ensure that your calculated irrigation amounts are doing the job.

The calculators ask for some information that you may not know yet. The calculators will suggest values you can plug in to get at least a provisional answer. Then call the Santa Clara Valley Water District at (408) 630-2257 to schedule an irrigation system evaluation during one of your normally scheduled irrigations, and we will develop the rest of the information so you can use the calculator for more precise estimation.

California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) Hotline
This service provides current reference evapotranspiration (ET) data to help you maintain the most efficient irrigation scheduling.

The District maintains a CIMIS station in Gilroy in partnership with Synsenta AG and the California Department of Water Resources.

  • Check the daily updated CIMIS weather from the local Gilroy station.

  • Check the updated daily weather from the local station: Saratoga Station

  • Download a CIMIS brochure [PDF]

Mobile Lab: System Efficiency Test Program
Find out how uniformly your system is irrigating your crops with the Water District's mobile lab service. An experienced technician will analyze your system's performance and suggest improvements where appropriate.

QUESTIONS? Call the Water Conservation Hotline at (408) 630-2554 or email us at Conservation@valleywater.org.