Frequently Asked Questions.
SWIIM provides the following FAQs for you convenience. However, should you require a more specific answer to your question, you can either Contact Us or if you are a registered user of our products, you can visit the Support Page of our website. To use our FAQs hover your mouse over a specific question, then click to expand the question and reveal the answer.
SWIIM stands for Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management® and provides multi-dimensional water use data that can be used for comprehensive agricultural water management. Our patented process co-developed with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, monitors crop-water on- and off-flows, consumptive use, subsurface deliveries, precipitation and weather data to produce a comprehensive, defendable water budget that can then be balanced like you would your financial bank account. SWIIM provides an easy-to-use interface designed for agriculture professionals. A crop-water budget is produced with the data collected over 60 times an hour, aggregated, quality-checked and delivered to the client through multiple platforms, including a comprehensive, detailed report. It also facilitates real-time decision-making and allows users to be aware of water overuse as it happens through real-time monitoring and pre-set alarm conditions.
Flow tells you irrigation amounts, SWIIM accounts for irrigation, precipitation, crop water use, deep percolation, and run-off. SWIIM is the only system available which provides all this data, full audited, in easy-to-read report.
SWIIM gives you the tools to improve crop production and optimize water use. Furthermore, SWIIM’s reports serve as audited, third-party verification of water use and efficiency. This protects our clients from any arguments or regulatory constraints which lack the field-specific water data that SWIIM provides.
SWIIM can be used on all types of irrigation systems, including flood, furrow, sprinkler, and drip. No matter how old or new the system in place is, SWIIM has the tools necessary to collect accurate data.
SWIIM can be used with a wide variety of crop types – permanent crops, row crops, and perennial crops. Whatever your specific crop is, SWIIM has a solution!
It is not necessary to have an automated irrigation to use SWIIM – SWIIM can add or recommend the equipment required for remote monitoring regardless of the current irrigation system. If you do have an existing automated irrigation system, SWIIM can tie into this and collect data without requiring any additional equipment.
If you have a weather station on site, SWIIM can tie into it. If not, SWIIM can assess available weather stations, and in many cases an existing SWIIM weather station and/or public weather stations can be used in our consumptive use calculation. It is always beneficial to have a weather station on site – SWIIM always makes sure there is a minimum of two sources of weather data tied to each field we monitor to ensure accurate information. This combined with satellite imagery analysis allows us to provide an accurate, field specific calculation of crop water demand.
In the West the reality is that water allocations and water use efficiency by growers is becoming more and more closely-examined by regulators, by legislators, and by society at large. Water is scarce. Long-term we’re looking at more and more volatility, and that volatility will exist within a water infrastructure that was designed for a different era. With our growing population, more unpredictable precipitation, accuracy of data is the first and best defense when water use is our challenge.
When you’re dealing with agricultural water, it used to be that all people worried about was the application of water to a farm — did it increase or decrease? That was the common way of looking at that resource, whether you were conserving, or putting some back to the grid. Focusing on consumed water specifically, is only the beginning of the analysis.
When you’re talking about moving some of that water, you have to be very precise. It’s the same kind of audit trail you would get from your CPA on your bank accounts if you were going in front of the IRS. It’s very similar to the level of analytics we’re applying to that crop water budget.
We think there is a place for a structured water market in many western jurisdictions, because the alternative–if we do nothing–is the continuation of the regulatory taking of water that has occurred over the last 25 years in the West. So we have to find a better way to protect agriculture’s access to the resource, and a well-structured, somewhat limited water market may be the best way to go. It is not without pitfalls.
Look at the Australian experience. Some policy wonks paint that as the model, but they gloss over the fact that there several farm communities, and many farmers who are completely shut down. Investors came in, bought up the water, and moved it to urban areas, and that’s that. That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid here.
It’s a tricky conversation. There’s a place here for compensated and incentivized water efficiency and aggregation of conserved water to be delivered to cities or even to neighboring ag water districts. But it has to be done in a way that protects farmers underlying access to the resource. Whether that’s an individual water right held by the farmer, or water right held by the irrigation district serving many farmers.
With agricultural water you have a certain amount of complexity, whereby the amount of water you apply to a farm is not necessarily the amount consumed. There are several “flow paths” that water can travel and field boundaries come into play in the analysis. In most cases you have to have much higher level of analytics behind the amount of water, you’re not only applying, but what’s being conserved, and some validation for where the rest of that water goes. When you look at analyzing that level of data, the reason we have been referred to as “Quickbooks®* for your water accounting,” like Quickbooks®*, or a tool like Quicken®* analyzes the sub-accounts of where your money is going. Perhaps you can see what you’ve withdrawn from your bank account, which would be the same as applied water to your field. Imagine you have 100 units of water. Maybe you apply 50 of those 100 units of water that you have the rights to. The question is, where are you spending those 50 units of water? Knowing that is important. In most western jurisdictions you’re only getting credit for conserved water, or a “water bank,” that you’re depositing back in, if it’s based off of something other than applied water. You have to show that you’re not gaming the system. You’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul. You’re not pulling from another sub account. That’s the level we’re at with water in the West, specifically with agriculture.
SWIIM has the potential to audit and confirm already-established conservation activities or help you determine through the Planner algorithm practices to conserve water use. This can result in a direct or indirect increase in a farmer’s net revenue. SWIIM provides a seamless set of tools to accomplish these and other related goals for the grower and for a water manager, such as an irrigation district, ditch company or other water management entity.
The most solid deliverable we provide to our clients on a regular basis is an audit of all of their water use. It’s not dissimilar to a bank account balance. It’s like a ledger of where all the water went, and the value of that water. SWIIM allows for a voluntary aggregation and movement of water to other interests that avoids a political and/or legal conflict, against the will of the farmers. The bottom line is the end of season period report telling you exactly where your water goes.
Yes. SWIIM is compatible with surface delivered water, groundwater (pipe) or a combination of both sources on one, or multiple fields.
There are lots of side benefits to having that comprehensive real-time, or near real-time data.
Obviously reduction of water cost and an increase of production from using less water. Or freeing up water for use in another ag operation. There are cost offsets, if you will. Tax savings–federal and state incentives for conserving water, and showing a tangible savings going to another use. Some people call this auditable data-stream a fiduciary report. We call it an insurance plan. A lot of growers, especially corporate growers, would like the ability to audit their water right the same way they audit their financials.
The system works alone or integrates with common irrigation scheduling systems. We help plan and audit the actual crop-water balance, based again a “plan.” We track what you think is happening and show you the results for better irrigation scheduling.
The largest water users always have a target on their back anyway from, a political standpoint. Whether they’re the most efficient user of water or not isn’t the point. The point is that folks are going to be looking to them to be above and beyond the call of duty, that we would expect from other water users. These reports provide an insurance plan and a fiduciary report that you’re really tracking that water. Some folks actually use the audit reports to quell concerns, especially if they are big water users.
When you have auditable financial records, and the IRS does come calling, would you rather go in with a shoebox of receipts or would you rather have a very solid auditable chain of where all of your money went? We don’t have an IRS for water conservation, or to ensure compliance at this point, but what we do have is pressure points in state government pushing for conserved water and accountability around ag water.
We tell growers, “You spend a lot of money tracking your money,” and making sure your money is going to the right place. From all of these growers, their primary input mechanism for developing that revenue stream is water, where they use water to grow crop. So you would arguably want to spend a reasonable amount to audit that water stream.
SWIIM works with furrow, sprinkler, drip or a combination of irrigation methods within an operation. We also monitor permanent crops, in addition to annuals.
What are the incentives to the grower or series of growers, or collective of growers that are using the technology?
The final incentive, which is possibly the most powerful, and probably the least accepted so far, is generating a new revenue stream from the transfer of saved water. We’ve deployed SWIIM in the Imperial Irrigation District, and it’s one example we can point to where growers can be paid directly for the water savings they show in their operation. If you’re a grower in Imperial you don’t lose that allocation. It’s voluntary. If you choose to subject yourself to some level of accountability for conservation, at the grower level, and show a reduction–which many of SWIIM’s clients do– you get paid. If they want their full allocation–whether it’s efficient or not–they get it, and Imperial won’t take it back from them.
It’s a real pressure point for growers. When they start conserving, and there’s a question of, “They see I can perform my cropping activities with less water, does that mean they’re going to pull it back in the future in perpetuity?” That’s a real risk, and it needs to be addressed any time you’re talking about these types of programs, or you’re not doing justice to the real fears, and the real risk that you’re exposing growers to under such a system. If you just added a new risk to their table, without any form of compensation, there’s no business person I am aware of who would make that decision. And that’s what sometimes growers are asked to do, when they’re asked to conserve, without any thought to the risk, or any kind of remuneration for conserving that allotment of water.
What we’re offering is a completely voluntary system, and you find a good number of growers participating. If there’s any risk in the permanent loss of allocation, you can forget wide adoption. We see the trend moving in other areas, where irrigation districts are willing to consider these direct-to-grower incentives, and we believe that as this trend continues to mature, and continues to gain momentum, you’ll see more conservation, as long as it comes without the risk of the loss of allocation in perpetuity. More districts are considering direct-to-grower payment.
Yes, SWIIM allows for the aggregation and management of multiple farms. It also allows each individual grower to keep their information confidential.