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Ag Solar
Judy Anderson

Farmland preservationists, solar developers to build green energy arrays

The conservation community is realizing that solar, when designed to work with agriculture, can help keep farmers on the land, keep land in production, and increase soil health and water management. But we have to demand that this type of solar happens...

An estimated 750,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. is lost each year and “solar development if done right could potentially help” save some of that farmland, said John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to keep farmland in production.

Earlier this week, Piotti said during a webcast meeting that his group would work with two private firms, Edelen Renewables and Arcadia Solar to develop “agrivoltaic” community solar farms in a number of states including New York…

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Rooftop Solar

Solar workshop series

Land trusts are realizing that transitioning to solar in a manner that is compatible with agriculture, structures, and disturbed land, is part of their conservation work. They don't have to be experts. Rather, they can tap into other organizations and leaders, and run or sponsor programs — like this land trust has done.

While this workshop is over, you can get a sense of what they are helping to amplify. The following is from their announcement:

Solar workshop series comes to southern Maryland: If you’re interested in using solar electricity to power your home, farm, or business, then please join an upcoming session of the University of Maryland’s “Solar Workshop Series.”

University of Maryland Extension Specialists and industry representatives will discuss the opportunities, challenges, and practical applications for using solar power. Each workshop will address important factors that will help you decide if solar is right for you and how you can install a solar electric system that meets your needs…
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Elevated Solar
Hyperion Systems, LLC

Agrivoltaics looks at farming around/among solar panels

The new Inflation Reduction Act bill makes it more economically feasible for innovative solar that works WITH farming, rather than against it. However, it means we have to change the narrative and stop saying to keep solar off good farmland and instead insist that solar on farmland supports short-term and long-term farm viability.

Double cropping solar power and organic dairy production works successfully here, but the concept – called agrivoltaics – is still very new.

Agrivoltaics is a new umbrella term defined as any farming practices on the land supporting solar power.

Around the world, innovators are looking for ways that solar panels and agriculture can benefit from the other. Flowers, pollinator plants, alfalfa, grass, vegetables and greens, and fruits and berries are some of the potential crops that people are planting in conjunction with solar panels…

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Canal Solar
Solar AquaGrid

How installing solar canopies over canals can help California fight drought

While installing solar over canals costs more, the multiple benefits make it clear that this could be an important part of the climate solution — as well as helping to reduce climate impacts. The same can be said for elevated solar that would help farmers stay on the land, improve soil health, and increase farm diversity.

A first-in-the-nation project to determine whether covering sections of canals with solar panels can help California reach its renewable energy goals is gearing up to break ground early next year…

Researchers from the University of California, Merced determined that covering the 4,000 miles of California’s open canals with solar panels could save upward of 63 billion gallons of water each year, the residential water needs of about 2 million people, or enough to irrigate about 50,000 acres of farmland…

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Judy Anderson

Agrivoltaics looks at farming around and among solar panels

We are predicted to need 8-10 million acres of solar to adequately transition from fossil fuels. When installed thoughtfully, solar can benefit farming, and farm viability, including large animal operations. We just need to push for it.

If you are driving to the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), look along U.S. Highway 59 for large pastures where cows graze among solar panels.

The cows, under the direction of Bradley Heins, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, use the panels for shade and shelter.

Double cropping solar power and organic dairy production works successfully here, but the concept — called agrivoltaics — is still very new…

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Coastal Rivers
Nate Poole

Coastal Rivers takes leap towards carbon neutrality with solar array

I think you will appreciate the leadership of land trusts like Coastal Rivers, who are making it clear that an integrated approach to slowing down climate change, matters.

For those who braved mud or ice to stroll the slopes at Round Top Farm this winter, they may have spotted something shiny and new in the southwest field behind Darrows Barn.

As of Jan. 3, contractors with ReVision Energy completely installed eight rows of solar panels on a one-acre parcel at the farm and are in the process of finishing the wiring on the array. ReVision broke ground on the project in the fall.

Hannah McGhee, Coastal Rivers outreach and communications manager, said the location for the panels was selected for the minimal impact it would have on the visual landscape at Round Top for the public and abutters.

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Solar sharing for both food and clean energy production

Farmland without water is an increasing risk no matter where you are in the country. Corn, soybeans, vegetables, and orchards are all feeling the stress; agrivoltaics (often elevated solar) could make a difference. You might find this scientific study on agrivoltaics (with corn), interesting.

Research on the performance of agrivoltaic systems for corn, a typical shade-intolerant crop.

This article concerns research conducted at a 100-m2 experimental farm with three sub-configurations: no modules (control), low module density, and high module density. In each configuration, 9 stalks/m2 were planted 0.5 m apart. The biomass of corn stover grown in the low-density configuration was larger than that of the control configuration by 4.9%. Also, the corn yield per square meter of the low-density configuration was larger than that of the control by 5.6%.

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Times Hudson Valley Media

The future of farming?

Lightstar has one potential site in mind for the Town of Montgomery: a 3.4 mW installation on 16 acres. The acreage is currently being used for vegetable and hay production, with Lightstar offering financial and agricultural support for the next two decades.

Large solar arrays have begun to line the Wallkill Valley landscape. Solar farms are springing to life where agriculture — and in one case a miniature golf course — once ruled the land.

But what if a farmer wanted to continue to grow crops on a farm and was able to plant and grow them underneath solar panels that alternately allowed for shade and sunlight for the crops? What if the farmer could lease space to the provider of solar energy and earn additional income while continuing to operate the farm?

This concept, known as agrivoltaics, is catching on. It could soon come to the Town of Montgomery, provided a change in the town’s solar laws is approved…

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Agrivoltaics Screen Shot

Sustainable farm agrivoltaic project

This research provides clarity on how solar and farming can work together to improve soil health, water management, and enhanced solar energy production.

Solar panels can be positioned to allow plants just the right amount of sunlight, and then the excess sunlight can be harvested for electricity — and produce more than they would without crops below them.

That’s right. Plants help keep the solar panels cool, which makes them more productive. Our studies have shown that panels positioned above plants produce up to 10% more electricity.

Agrivoltaics is a symbiotic relationship where both the solar panels and the crops benefit because they help each other perform better.

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Farming collaborative plan looks to keep land accessible, open

Vermont Land Trust has long been an organization supporting farm viability as part of its farmland protection strategy. This is an interesting project that reflects climate change, economic viability, and conservation.

Under the land collaborative model, the property will not solely be devoted to agriculture; Sanford-Long’s animals will share land with a planned solar array…

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