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3 Ways that Solar and Agriculture Unite

3 Ways that Solar and Agriculture Unite

Thursday, September 01, 2022
A common misconception surrounding the renewable energy sector is that solar kills agriculture. This statement is a large platform for pushback against the green energy movement- but it isn't entirely true. There are several ways that different forms of solar power can work together with agriculture to produce both food and energy for Americans. Take this for instance: say you own a large farming operation and you're looking for ways to offset your energy consumption costs but you aren't sure how to start incorporating solar into your farm. Here's a few ways:

solar and chicken farmsPut Away the Lawn Mowers and Bring in the Sheep!

An important part of solar operations and maintenance is grounds maintenance. When the grass grows too high, it can create shade which reduces energy production. It's very common to utilize goats for grounds maintenance while also raising them to create products such as goats milk, goat cheese, and goat soap. They're the seemingly perfect dual-purpose animal for a small solar farm, but don't move your herd quite yet! Goats are also well known for eating anything and everything (including the metal and wiring used for solar power). The better dual-purpose animal for grounds maintenance is actually sheep. While sheep graze the field and keep grass at bay, they can also be sheered for their wool and raised for meat. The best part is- they won't eat the wiring and metal surrounding your panels!

Line Those Chicken Houses with Solar Panels!solar panels and farming

Climate-controlled commercial chicken houses are required to be 600 feet long and 42 feet wide. This results in 25,200 square feet of available and unused roof space that can be utilized for C&I solar panels. These Commercial and Industrial panel systems are installed on large scale roofs such as these to harvest the sun's energy and offset energy costs. In many circumstances extra power collected can be stored in battery systems or sold back to power companies, but what makes C&I systems especially interesting is the tax credit offered to businesses for incorporating clean energy into their production. The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for 2023 is 22% and businesses can claim the full ITC cost after paying for 5% of the project cost- giving you some flexibility for when your solar system has to start producing energy.

 Pigs and Solar Together are Sow Amazing!

fencing stg solarThe State University of New York Courtland conducted a study in 2016 about the effectiveness of using pigs to graze solar farms in addition to sheep. The kunekune breed pig was successful in maintaining the grounds of a small solar farm without damaging the power system, further proving that agriculture can be successfully paired with solar in order to achieve climate goals. This specific breed of pig was the most successful compared to other breeds which would root and pull up system wiring and with a lifespan average of 15-20 years, they can be used as a longer term solution. As it's the newest grazing animal for solar farm maintenance, kunekune pigs can also be raised for meat purposes, making it a dual purpose grazing animal.
With several ways to incorporate solar into your existing agriculture business, the possibilities for expansion are endless. With tax incentives, battery storage options, and energy cost reduction it's easy to see why farming operations are beginning to incorporate solar into their business.