The Agrivoltaic Solution

Agrivoltaics : Agriculture & Photovoltaics (Solar Panels).

It's nothing new, farming, we've been doing it for thousands of years now. Solar panels have been around since the 1980s. But now yields per square metre matter and power prices continue to rise and our need for resilience from power outages and the independence that brings with today's modern monitoring technologies is price-less.

Imagine being able to run farm equipment off solar you've generated, imaging if the diesel mechanic no longer needed to visit for routine maintenance of your tractors because those were electric. Imagine having access to shade in your fields for cattle or that the shade meant you didn't need to irrigate the crops so often because the plants had better water retention because they didn't dry out. Or that the panels could provide shelter from hail storms. (solar panels can do that, yes).

Studies in Spain have found that a small reduction in light for crops like lettuce was beneficial when the solar array was installed with sufficient spacing for light. In fact, only a small reduction in yield was found as the gaps were closed and broad leaf vegetables only needed 50% of the usable light in the day for photosynthesis.  Additionally, the soil could hold more moisture meaning a reduction in water consumption. Any reduction in growth yield was easily met by the benefit of selling back power to the national grid. That didn't even account for the savings the farmer would make if they were to use the generated free power themselves.

If you are grazing animals, especially lighter animals than a cow then a pole-mounted solar array is a simple addition to your land. Sheep will keep the grass maintained around the array meaning little to no maintenance and the shade provided could have a positive impact on the health of the animals. 

You might even be able to offset some of your carbon emissions are work towards a carbon zero operation. You certainly are in a better position with a solar solution than you are without one and the possibility of storing your energy for use later has many benefits.