It’s true that without the sun there would be no photosynthesis, and without that key process there would be no plant-based foods. Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has relied on the sun’s life-giving properties to help us grow and foster different kinds of crops. With the advent of modern technology and the amazing qualities of solar panels, we’re incorporating the sun in the next big farming innovation.
The Next Big Thing
An ever-growing number of people in the agricultural industry are looping solar power in to help with daily operations of their business. With the cost of going solar growing more affordable, it’s getting easier for folks to start justifying the addition of solar panels to their farms. Oddly, it solves a recent problem that loads of farmers are experiencing. Many are using solar panels to keep the increasing heat from climate change off their crops. This prevents crops and other vegetation from getting dried out and cooked by the sun, yet it holds heat close to the crop over night.
In turn, this prevents unnecessary cooling and potential freezing of the root of your crop. This balance actually provides no negative effects on the crop’s growth rates. It even gives farmers the ability to grow more shade-tolerant crops and diversify your crop selection more readily, which helps you to keep from wearing out your soil too quick. This method can extend your growth season and give you a little more time to get a better yield while actively decreasing the water requirements because the sun won’t be busy drying your fields all day.
Keep Your Livestock Cool and Comfy
Many farmers and ranchers are wondering if solar panels will keep their livestock from grazing freely in their fields. The answer is yes! Funny enough, many solar energy facilities are using sheep to control the vegetation around their solar facilities so it doesn’t get too out of control. Sheep, in particular, won’t climb on or harm your solar modules in your field. They’ll only graze the vegetation under and around your solar panels. In fact, you can even raise the height of your solar panel installation to accommodate the livestock’s grazing patterns, and keep them from bumping their heads.
No Microclimate Effect
At this point, there is not loads of studies on the effect of solar power panels on the microclimate of your soil underneath each panel, but the research that does exist suggests that solar panels won’t alter the microclimate of each little path of earth they cover. There shouldn’t be any concern of invasive species, fungi or pest problems resulting from installing solar modules in your fields.
Support Native Vegetation and Pollinator Species
Solar panels won’t interrupt your ability to foster native vegetation species or to help pollinator habitat species grow beneath them. As long as the plants you’re looking to grow are all low-height, they’ll be able to thrive. In fact, both Minnesota and Maryland have actually developed a variety of pollinator-friendly solar certifications to help perpetuate the idea that you could use the space under the solar panel installations to support the pollinator’s habitats. This is mostly in regard to utility-scale solar energy projects, but there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to use these same benefits for your own land.
What Can Solar Panels Power?
Everything, you could stop relying on electricity and start powering your equipment and you home on your land with solar power instead almost immediately. Do you need irrigation equipment? Solar power could offset the amount of power you currently need to provide power to your irrigation system even in more remote portions of your land. As it is now, solar powered irrigation is currently being utilized all over Africa, South America and India because of it’s low-cost and high benefit yield.
Benefits of Solar and Crop Production
It goes by the name “co-locating,” but utilizing solar panels and crop production hand-in-hand comes with a load of other benefits. For example, installing solar on agricultural land isn’t too difficult because there’s no need to level-out the land, as it’s already been leveled by years of tilling and re-tilling. Additionally, agricultural land has been rated as the lowest risk option for geotechnical risk, which makes it a far more attractive offer.
Oddly enough, solar panels work better when they’re not too hot. If there’s plenty of vegetation underneath to help absorb and balance the temperature around the solar panels, they’re more effective than if they’re planted in a stretch of desert with nothing to mitigate the high levels of heat.
Beyond the benefit to making installation a little easier, having active solar panels on your agricultural land can decrease your energy costs and diversify your revenue stream. Better yet, they’ll increase your ability to plant more resistant crops from year-to-year without having to worry about wearing the soil out too readily. If you’d like, you can even install a crop of solar panels this year, and wait for your land to recharge and regain its nutrients without sacrificing income. The ability to maintain crop production while you create solar power is, of course, a major perk. But, so is marketing that your farm is powered by renewable energy, which is a nice buzz word to have associated with your products nowadays, no matter what industry you’re in.
Have we peaked your interest? Reach out to us today and we can start talking about bringing solar power to your Sacramento agricultural land. We’re happy to help spread the solar power installation love throughout industries, residential areas and beyond. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.