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California Air Quality for Agricultural Irrigation Engines

Overview

Under the Agricultural Act of 2018, the Secretary shall provide eligible producers with technical and financial opportunities to address serious air quality concerns from agricultural operations and help meet regulatory requirements.

In Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021), the California Air Quality Initiative ranking pool is designed to help agricultural producers meet air quality compliance requirements and offer opportunities to support practices that addresses impacts associated with greenhouse gases.  Implementing conservation practices that reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOC), particulate matter (PM) emissions helps achieve and maintain the health- and welfare-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in California.  Reducing greenhouse gas emissions assists the State of California with achieving long-term carbon goals.

Financial assistance priority is targeted toward counties identified as having significant air quality resource concerns based on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “nonattainment” designations for Ozone and PM or predesignated as “Attainment (Maintenance Area)”.  These areas experience air pollution levels that persistently exceed the NAAQS established by the Clean Air Act.  Funding assistance may also be available to address the air quality resources concerns within areas designated as “Unclassifiable/Attainment” of the Ozone and PM NAAQS. 

EPA posts the NAAQS nonattainment area designations on-line at https://www.epa.gov/green-book.

These priorities are supported by the California NRCS 2020-25 Five-Year Strategic Plan for improving air quality associated with agricultural operations by addressing ozone and particulate matter in nonattainment areas and to maximize emissions reductions through NRCS air quality projects.  The Strategic Plan also supports greenhouse gas benefits by increasing the number of conservation plans that reduce greenhouse gas emission sources and sequester carbon. 

California NRCS 2020-25 Five Year Strategic Plan is available at:  https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ca/about/?cid=stelprdb1264052

There are two typical conservation treatments under this EQIP fund pool to improve emissions from in-use engines used at irrigation pumping plants: 

  1. Eliminate air pollution emissions at the source [NOx, VOC, PM, GHG] from stationary in-use irrigation pumping plants by removing from service and permanently destroying a fully functional in-use irrigation engine and repower with a new electric motor.
  • The in-use engine is rated at least 50 brake-horsepower (bhp) and may be either a spark-ignition engine (e.g. fueled by natural gas, propane, gasoline, etc.), or a nonroad compression-ignition engine (e.g. diesel-fueled engine) meeting Tier 1, 2, or 3 emissions certification.
  • The new electric motor is rated at least 25 horsepower and does not exceed 125 percent of the in-use engine baseline horsepower rating.
  1. Reduce air pollution emissions [NOx, VOC, PM] from stationary or portable in-use irrigation pumping plants by removing from service and permanently destroying a fully functional in-use nonroad diesel engine and repower with a new nonroad diesel engine. 
  • The in-use nonroad diesel engine is rated at least 50 bhp and meets Tier 3 emissions certification.
  • The new nonroad diesel engine is rated at least 50 bhp, does not exceed 125 percent of the in-use diesel engine baseline horsepower rating, and meets Tier 4-Final emissions certification.

Significant emission reduction benefits are achieved higher-polluting in-use agricultural irrigation engines are retired earlier than through normal turnover and repowered with new electric motors or new Tier 4–Final emissions-certified nonroad diesel engines.  New electric motor repowers essentially eliminates NOx VOC, PM and greenhouse gas emissions at the source.

The applicable NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) is CPS 372-Combustion System Improvement and applies when the only change to the pumping plant is the power unit itself for an air quality purpose.  CPS 372 and this fund pool does not apply for all other scenario improvements to the pumping plant, such as the pump, plumbing, variable frequency drives, appurtenances, and protective structures.  For pumping plant improvements that include replacing the power unit, apply CPS 533-Pumping Plant and not CPS 372.

To ensure that the emission reductions are permanent, dispose the in-use engine at an approved destruction facility.  No parts or components may be recycled as used parts.

The CPS 372 practice lifespan is 10 years.

The applicable EPA Engine Family Name and State of California Air Resources Board (ARB) Executive Order (or EPA Certificate of Conformity, when applicable) determine the Tier-level emissions certification for in-use and new nonroad diesel engines.  An emissions-certification label affixed on the engine will assist with identifying the applicable EPA Engine Family Name for the engine model.  The “L” designation within the EPA Engine Family Name indicates a nonroad diesel engine.  For new diesel engines certified under the Family Emissions Limit (FEL) provisions, the FEL values must be equal-to or less than the Tier 4-Final emission standard values (STD) for each pollutant per the applicable ARB Executive Order. 

Federal, state, regional and/or local air quality authorities have adopted regulations and emission standards that apply to in-use and new agricultural irrigation engines, including permitting and registration requirements.  Applicants are therefore advised to consult with the appropriate air quality authority prior to submitting an EQIP application to address these regulatory requirements that may apply toward the installation of new and the operation of in-use and new agricultural irrigation engines.

New electric motors are not subject to air quality permit, registration or regulatory requirements.

Four worksheets are included at the end of this fund pool description:

  1. California In-Use Existing Equipment/Engine (Baseline) Worksheet and Instructions
  2. California New Equipment/Engine Worksheet (Proposed) and Instructions
  3. California Equipment/Engine Destruction Certification Worksheet
  4. California Emissions Calculation Worksheet

The first two worksheets are for the applicant to document the proposed in-use and new electric motor or diesel engine for submittal to the NRCS with an EQIP application.  The applicant may use the third worksheet to document the in-use engine destruction and disposal in accordance with CPS 372-Specifications.  The conservation planner and/or the applicant will use the fourth worksheet for calculating the estimated emissions and emission reductions associated with the conservation practice.

Land Uses

Only applications for agricultural operations that address resource concerns on at least one land use type listed below will be considered for financial assistance from this EQIP Fund Pool. The descriptions below are the general NRCS land use definitions - applications should fit within, but do not need to exactly match, these descriptions.

  • Crop: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Pasture: Land composed of introduced or domesticated native forage species that is used primarily to produce livestock. Pastures receive periodic renovation and cultural treatments, such as tillage, fertilization, mowing, weed control, and may be irrigated. Pastures are not in rotation with crops.
  • Farmstead: Land used for facilities and supporting infrastructure where farming, forestry, animal husbandry, and ranching activities are often initiated. This may include dwellings, equipment storage, plus farm input and output storage and handling facilities.
  • Associated Agricultural Lands: Land associated with farms and ranches that are not purposefully managed for food, forage, or fiber and are typically associated with nearby production or conservation lands. This could include incidental areas, such as odd areas, ditches and watercourses, riparian areas, field edges, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and other similar areas.

Resource Concerns

The goal of conservation planning is to help each client attain sustainable use and sound management of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources, based on related human considerations (SWAPAE+H). Below is a list of priority resource concerns for the ranking pool.

SWAPAE+H
Resource Concern
Resource Concern Componet
Air
Air Quality Emissions
Emissions of airborne reactive nitrogen
Emissions of greenhouse gases - GHGs
Emissions of ozone precursors
Emissions of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors


Emissions of Ozone Precursors: Ozone (O3) precursor gases are oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) pollutants.  Ambient ozone is formed in the atmosphere through a photochemical reaction of NOx and VOC pollutants in the presence of sunlight, where its reactivity can be influenced by ambient heat.  Exposure to ambient ozone can cause adverse impacts to public health, plants and animals.  Sources of NOx and VOC emissions are from naturally occurring “biogenic sources” and from “anthropogenic sources” that include livestock activities, pesticide application, solvent and gasoline storage and use, nitrification/denitrification processes, and combustion from boilers, engines and open burning. 

Emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) and PM Precursors: Particulate Matter is classified by its size where PM2.5 and PM10 have an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers, respectively.  PM2.5 is directly emitted to the atmosphere by combustion processes such as from diesel engine exhaust and open burning, and to a lesser degree by mechanical means such as dust from vehicle traffic on unpaved roads or tillage activities.  PM2.5 is also formed in the atmosphere by chemical reactions of PM precursor gases that primarily include oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and ammonia (NH3). Sources of these PM2.5 precursor gases can be from combustion activities, fertilizer application, and animal operations. Much of PM10 is mechanically generated and directly emitted to the atmosphere by actions that disaggregate the soil such as tillage operations, unpaved roads and field travel, animal movement, harvesting activities, bulk material storage and handling, and wind erosion.  Visible PM emissions are typically geologic in origin and range in different sizes that may include PM2.5 and PM10.

Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs): Direct or indirect emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), that accumulate in the atmosphere can have a potent impact on the climate. Activities from crop fertilization (natural and synthetic), tillage and agricultural soils management, manure management, livestock enteric fermentation, combustion activities, rice cultivation, and land-use conversion all contribute to excess agricultural GHG emissions into the atmosphere. Fuel consumption as an energy source contributes to atmospheric CO2.  Soil tillage is also a CO2 contributor by increasing the rate of soil organic matter decomposition and releasing soil carbon into the atmosphere.  Methane is produced as part of the normal digestive processes in animals and through anaerobic decomposition of manure and managed waste. A portion of nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops and grasslands emit N2O by volatilization through the nitrification/denitrification process.

Emissions of Airborne Reactive Nitrogen: Airborne reactive nitrogen describes many nitrogen-containing compounds associated with atmospheric chemical reactions that contribute to unwanted ecosystem effects.  As the primary pollutants of concern are ammonia (NH3) and NOx, airborne reactive nitrogen contributes to excess fertilization of sensitive ecosystems, eutrophication of water bodies, regional visibility degradation, and impacts to atmospheric chemistry.  Ammonia is mainly emitted from fertilizer application and animal operations.  Combustion from boilers, heaters, engines and open burning are the main sources of agricultural NOx emissions, though to a lesser degree soils and manure management activities will also emit NOx. 

Conservation Practices

NRCS conservation practices eligible for financial assistance through this ranking pool are listed in the below table.  Payments are based on the manufacturer’s advertised electric motor horsepower or engine brake- or gross-horsepower rating.

Practice Code
Conservation Practice Name
Practice Payment Scenario
Units
Lifespan
(Years)
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, >= 500 HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, 400-499 HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, 275-399 HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, 225-274 HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, 175-224 HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, 125-174 HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, 70-124 HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
Electric Motor in-lieu of IC Engine, 12-69 [25-69] HP
no
10
372
Combustion System Improvement
IC Engine Repower, >25 [50] bhp
no
10

 

The Combustion System Improvement Practice Standard and more information are available on-line at:

For more information about NRCS conservation practices, visit the following website for NRCS conservation practice standards.

Interested Applicants

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility, interested applicants should contact a NRCS field office in the county which you own land or where you have an agricultural operation. 

Visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/ to find the NRCS representative for your county.

 

Updated: 03/10/2021