Solar Energy Use in Agriculture and Horticulture
Solar energy can be the key to lowering production costs of any agricultural or horticultural operation. Dairy, poultry or sheep farming, growing grains or other crops — every type of farm, including vineyards, orchards and other specialized operations — involves many energy-intensive practices. Putting the sun to work makes sense as a practical solution to lowering farming energy use and expense.
Uses for Solar Technology on the Farm
Dozens of high-tech options are available today for using photovoltaic systems in agriculture and horticulture. Passive solar techniques, such as staging the crop rows and designing or updating buildings to take advantage of the sunlight, often come at little cost but offer the capacity to boost a farm’s productivity. PV panel systems can harness the sun’s energy to pump water for irrigating crops and powering farm machinery and equipment. Solar technologies can also be effectively used to provide light, heat and ventilation to the farmhouse and livestock buildings.
Benefits of Using Solar Energy
Solar technology offers farmers an opportunity to stabilize their energy costs. Some solar strategies involve an initial investment, but once those costs are recovered, fuel is free. This allows farmers to budget more effectively and to save money, as they can avoid the high (and unpredictable) expenses of municipal energy sources.
PV systems also require much less maintenance than other traditional farm energy sources — and they are quite efficient. Greenhouse nurseries, for example, enable year-round crop growth. Photovoltaic panels can also dry crops more quickly and evenly than other methods. Additionally, solar collectors can lower costs when they are used in dairy and livestock operations, as the sun’s energy can power water heaters and other necessary equipment.
Staying Off of the Grid
Solar energy techniques in agricultural operations allow farmers to become less reliant on the electrical grid. Many farms are even able to generate enough power through alternative strategies to remain completely off of the grid. This can be particularly helpful for those in remote locations, where installing new utility lines can be problematic and expensive. Solar energy is predictable, which means that farms need not be concerned about potential power outages. This is especially true if the farms have sufficient battery storage for the energy collected. To supplement battery storage and to help ensure independence from the electrical grid, farm operations can use backup generators powered by wind, gas or diesel fuel.
Agriculture and horticulture operating costs can be high, and meeting these expenses can be difficult for many farmers. Solar strategies can help farmers reduce their costs and improve their efficiency and self-reliance. To learn more about implementing solar techniques on farms in the Intermountain West, schedule a free consultation with the experts at Intermountain Wind and Solar today. Serving Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Idaho and Colorado, their experienced team can help you understand all of your solar energy options.