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Sunny outlook for solar shaded crops

The debate over using agricultural land to build solar farms has heated up over the past couple of years. But for some crops, this need not be an issue, according to a recent article.

In Gelsdorf, Germany, an apple farmer has been using solar panels to not only generate clean power, but also to provide shade for his trees. In the heat of July 2022, almost no solar-shaded apples were damaged by sunlight, compared with about 18% of apples in the non-shaded group.

Similarly, in the US a Massachusetts cranberry farmer has installed a solar array above his cranberry bog. In times when cranberry prices are falling, the solar panels provide a useful secondary income.

Of course, not all crops grow well in the shade, and so in both Germany and the US, researchers are studying which crops, and crop varieties, may be best suited to this dual land use.

The results of these studies could help us understand how we can increase solar electricity generation - without sacrificing food security.

Putting solar equipment on the same land as crops is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and North America. Farmers are finding that this model can make the most of their land, while establishing a second way to earn money.

Tags

agritech, solar, renewables, agriculture