Frequently Asked Questions 2017-12-15T16:32:11+00:00

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.

I have drip irrigation and permanent crops – can SWIIM help me? 2017-10-18T13:59:54+00:00

SWIIM works with furrow, sprinkler, drip or a combination of irrigation methods within an operation. We also monitor permanent crops, in addition to annuals.

I already have an irrigation scheduling system. What do I need SWIIM? 2017-10-18T14:00:25+00:00

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.

Why is SWIIM catching on? 2017-10-18T14:00:38+00:00

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.

What is SWIIM? 2017-10-18T14:00:50+00:00

SWIIM is offered as a full, turn-key solution and includes a software suite, instrumentation and remote sensing package that enables agricultural water users to optimize water rights, monitor the crop water budget, conserve water and increase net income for agricultural operations.  SWIIM’s patented process, co-developed with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, can plan and monitor crop water budgets with greater accuracy and provide producer-specific data that can then be aggregated for the water manager on a system-wide basis. SWIIM® Certification is an independent, third-party near real-time confirmation of crop-water budgets – from application to actual consumption.  This allows for ease of state and district water use compliance and exceeds the data required in most regions.  SWIIM also has the power to identify, quantify and monitor a whole new “bucket” of water not yet considered by most for conservation (and monetization) – on-farm conserved water allotments.

Why would I use SWIIM? 2017-10-18T14:01:14+00:00

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.

I use both surface and groundwater on my farm. Can SWIIM help me? 2017-10-18T14:02:07+00:00

Yes. SWIIM is compatible with surface delivered water, groundwater (pipe) or a combination of both sources on one, or multiple fields.

What is the SWIIM Planner software? 2017-10-18T14:02:38+00:00

SWIIM Planner is a software program that helps farmers plan their irrigation techniques and optimize their cropping inventory and submit such data to their water manager, if applicable.

What is the SWIIM Manager software? 2017-10-18T14:02:52+00:00

The SWIIM Manager is software that provides an irrigation district, ditch company or other water management entity the tools to manage and report water usage. You can learn more by visiting our Products Page.

I’m in a farming co-op. Will SWIIM Manager support multiple farms? 2017-10-18T14:03:27+00:00

Yes, SWIIM Manager allows for the aggregation and management of multiple farms that are utilizing several copies of SWIIM Planner.

Why don’t you let the user enter the data in a table or other type of method? 2017-04-14T10:14:01+00:00

Why do you use a map to enter the farm and fields?  Why not just let the user enter the data in a table?”

This is a good question (or questions to be precise).  There are several reasons for using a map and entering the farm and fields on the map:

We use the location of fields on the map to query background base map data and auto fill in the soil type and the area of the fields.

The field and farm shapes are passed to manager for a larger scale map of all farms and fields participating in a lease exchange.  This composite map will provide a good overview of participating farms with hooks to monitored water use.

When doing water balances in Manager, we’ll be able to associate weather stations and other area instrumentation and related data with fields on a graphical basis.

We can display crop plan suggestions with a  that lets the user see at a glance what crops will be grown where.

How can I improve my optimization results in SWIIM Planner? 2017-10-18T14:05:54+00:00

Generally SWIIM® Optimizer Input Wizard in SWIIM Planner will result in a recommended cropping pattern which will produce a much higher net return than your current practices (especially if you decrease your water allotment to allow for a portion of your CU to be leased).

However in some cases, depending on your inputs to the wizard, it may result in a very small increase in net return or even a lower future net return than your historical return.

To improve your results you should try doing one or more of the following:

Assuming you’re not yet locked into a specific water lease agreement with commensurate dollar value, you may enter a higher dollar value for leased CU water as you optimize your farm operation.  Naturally higher water lease rates will result in higher net return from the leased water.

Also assuming you don’t yet have a predetermined lease water volume, you may decrease your Water Allotment which will result in a higher volume of Available CU Water For Lease to a third-party.  You can play with water allotment values and crop options to see how they affect the resulting Available CU Water For Lease.

  • You may have increased the default crop prices over and above the provided NASS statistical data. Very high crop prices may make leased water less desirable.  Again, you may wish to try a few crop prices and see how the crop price affects the optimization outcome.
  • Double-check that your farm sizes, composition, “willing to grow” strategies, costs and water allocation are as accurate as possible.  The SWIIM Optimizer takes all of these inputs into account when modeling your farming operation.  The Optimizer will do a better job when given plenty of options to choose from.  Imagine at one extreme you give the optimizer a single field with a single crop you’re willing to grow.  You can imagine that it then will choose to either grow that crop or fallow it if the water constraint is too low for the crop.  Now imagine you give the optimizer 20 small fields (the maximum number of fields Planner will currently allow you to process) and you allow it to consider several crops per field.  It can now choose from what equates to hundreds of options and generate a crop plan that very closely matches your preferred water allotment while maximizing your income.

If you need more help, contact SWIIM Customer Support at swiimsystem.com.

How is SWIIM different from Australia’s market for water? 2017-10-18T14:04:51+00:00

Western farmers have been fearful of an attack on their water rights for decades. This isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s becoming a more heightened phenomenon because of scarcity. Because of heightened political and social pressure to take water away from agriculture. Agriculture has been demonized for using a lot of water. Show me anywhere in the world where farming doesn’t take a lot of water to grow food. It just does.

Can we use it more efficiently, and can we prove we’re using it more efficiently?
Can we stretch our water budgets? Yes! And it’s all to the good, and that’s what we SWIIM enables us to do, and we have to be cognizant of the water rights system, and the politics that have existed in the West since the early 1900s, or even earlier.

The whole impetus behind setting up SWIIM was to create a platform that created true win/win for all stakeholders. In many applications, especially business applications, there is a winner and a loser. In this case there is an opportunity to have a win/win for all the stakeholders involved.

What are the incentives to the grower or series of growers, or collective of growers that are using the technology? 2017-05-12T13:34:25+00:00

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.

Why is SWIIM catching on?

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.

How can growers use SWIIM as an “insurance plan,” so to speak? 2017-10-18T14:07:15+00:00

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.

What other benefits does SWIIM provide? 2017-10-18T14:07:33+00:00

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.

Why have you’ve been referred to as the ‘Quickbooks®* for Water’? 2017-08-02T12:46:36+00:00

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.

Why this level of analytics is so important, specifically in agricultural water management? 2017-08-02T12:55:52+00:00

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.

Why do today’s growers and agricultural water providers need a product like SWIIM? 2017-10-18T14:08:21+00:00

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.

*Quickbooks®  and Quicken® are registered trademarks of Intuit Inc. and not
affiliated with, nor do they endorse any SWIIM System, Ltd. product or service.