by Greg Ellis-Valencia
Farming is a multi-faceted effort that requires management of water, energy, and nutrients on the ground and the unpredictability of weather, economics, and regulation handed down from above. All of these factors together are increasingly difficult for farmers to handle. Stockman's Energy sees the farm for they complex system it is and helps manage on-farm energy and resources so farmers can focus on other pressing matters. Having grown up in rural communities--Montana and Wisconsin--principals Kirk Story and Eric Veium, both Cal Poly graduates, take great pleasure in working with agriculture. After years working at successful careers in commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy, they set out to use their experience to make the farmer’s life a little easier.
Stockman’s Energy currently focusses on irrigation optimization. Initially, they viewed energy cost savings as the main benefit of their service. “We quickly discovered that irrigation optimization gives farmers greater visibility and control of their operation and also helps them manage compliance with water regulations,” says Kirk. Among their tools are irrigation system benchmarking, solar power, and variable speed pump controls that can even allow irrigation operation via smartphone.
Pumping water is one of most energy intensive on-farm energy uses. Diesel or electric bills can run into the tens of thousands of dollars annually for each pump. Stockman’s Energy recently upgraded a Salinas Valley farmer’s diesel irrigation pumping station. Diesel prices have been so volatile that the farmer at times feared he couldn’t afford to pump. The new pump sports a high efficiency electric motor with variable speed control that significantly reduces energy use and eliminates regulated emissions, satisfying the farmer and regulators alike. This $100,000 project at a single well will pay back in about three years and will keep $30,000 each year after in the farmer’s pocket for the next 10 to 15 years. “By installing on-site solar or investing in energy efficient equipment, a farmer is paying off new equipment that he or she owns instead of a utility bill that will never go away,” emphasizes Eric.
For more information on how Stockman’s can help your farm, visit Stockmans Energy.